The Czech Republic is one of Europe’s most secularized countries. In the 2011 census, 42 percent of residents said they did not believe, while 44 percent did not answer the question of religious affiliation.
Around 10 percent stated the Roman Catholic Church, making it the country’s largest religious community. This was a sharp decline compared to the 2001 census, when just over a quarter of the residents claimed to be Catholic. There are also Protestant communities as well as small Muslim and Jewish congregations.
After the Velvet Revolution in 1989, the Catholic Church experienced an upswing, but interest soon faded. One explanation for this is that the Czech identity has largely evolved in the struggle against the Catholic Church. It has also been associated with repression during the Habsburg Empire (see Older History).
The reformer Jan Hus was born in Bohemia in 1370 and began to fight early on what he considered to be abuses within the church. He preached in Czech and opposed church dogma. Houses thus laid the foundation for an independent Czech church. He was banned by the Pope and burned in 1415 on a bonfire as a heretic. He then became a symbol of the mutually divided, Hittite movement. In the 1920s, a national Hussite church was formed through an outbreak of the Catholic Church. The Husit Church had close to a million followers in 1950, but then weakened as many felt it was overly adaptable to the communist regime. The number of housing units has decreased steadily, to around 58,000 in the 2010s.
Laws have been introduced to return Jewish assets seized by the Nazi regime from 1938 to 1945. A state fund was set up to pay compensation to those who could not recover their property.
In 2012, the government decided that, for a period of 30 years, the churches should regain large properties confiscated by the former communist regime. In addition, the churches will receive extensive financial compensation to compensate for the properties that cannot be returned. A majority of the Czechs opposed the decision, which was controversial as it happened while the then government was pursuing a tough savings policy. However, it was approved by Parliament in 2012. Approximately 80 percent of the cases concerned assets that had previously belonged to the Catholic Church. To receive compensation, the churches must be able to prove that they owned the assets on February 25, 1948.
- Countryaah: Population statistics for 2020 and next 30 years in Czech Republic, covering demographics, population graphs, and official data for growth rates, population density, and death rates.
Anti-Semitism is strong within the right-wing groups. They are guilty of everything from denial of the Holocaust, which is a crime in the Czech Republic, to ill-treatment, harassment via social media and damage in synagogues. Right-wing extremist organizations also played an active role as the anti-Muslim sentiment in the Czech Republic grew in connection with the refugee crisis in 2015. A series of protest meetings with several hundred participants were held against what the protesters saw as the “Islamization” of the country. These sentiments were also fueled by some media, President Zeman and other politicians, which was criticized both by the government, including Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka, and the opposition. In 2016, there were an estimated 11,000 Muslims in the Czech Republic.
Martin Konvička, from the extreme right Block against Islam (see Political system), was charged in the fall of 2015 for inciting hatred against Muslims. Konvička previously led a group called “We who do not want Muslims in the Czech Republic”.
Ready for a new tripartite government
After almost two months of negotiations, the Social Democrats, the populist party ANO and the Christian Democrats will agree to form a joint government. They have then solved the difficult tax issue, where the ANO opposed any increase in income tax for high-income earners (see Current policy).
The Social Democrats win the election
In the new election to the Chamber of Deputies, the Social Democrats will be the largest with 20.5 percent of the vote, followed by the populist party ANO with 18.7 percent, the Communist Party with 14.9 percent, Top 09 with 12 percent, the Democratic Citizenship Party with 7.7 percent, the Dawn of the Democratic Party with 6, 9 percent and the Christian Democrats with 6.8 percent.
Neo-Nazis demonstrate against the Roma
Hundreds of neo-Nazis demonstrate against a Roman residential area in Prague. The protesters are met by tear gas from the police, and respond by throwing stones that injure some policemen. Several protesters are arrested.
In several cities demonstrations against Roma are held. In Ostrava, protesters throw stones and try to get into a Roman area when police stop them with tear gas. A total of about 100 protesters are arrested in eight cities.
The Rusnok government falls in confidence vote
Jiři Rusnok’s expedition government loses a vote of confidence in parliament and resigns. Parliament votes to dissolve, and the president announces new elections until October 25-26.
The government raises the minimum wage
The new government raises the statutory minimum wage, which has not been adjusted since 2007. The recently resigned bourgeois government had for several years opposed the unions’ demands for the highest minimum allowable salary, which amounts to about 120,000 people.
Vote no to new elections
Parliament voted down a proposal to dissolve the House and announce new elections. Civil parties have a majority in the current parliament but, according to opinion polls, would lose big in a possible new election.
No charges against Nečas
Prosecutors withdraw their request to prosecute Petr Nečas after the Supreme Court ruled that three former MPs involved in the same corruption legacy are protected by legal immunity.
New government takes office
The new government under Jiři Rusnok will take office on July 10, but is believed to have difficulty in passing the vote of confidence which must be carried out within 30 days. Former Prime Minister Jan Fischer is appointed Finance Minister and Deputy Prime Minister.
Prosecutors want to bring charges against Nečas
Prosecutors request that Parliament waive the legal immunity of former Prime Minister Petr Nečas.
Rusnok gets commissioned to form government
President Zeman is commissioning former Finance Minister Jiři Rusnok to form a new government that will consist mostly of trade experts. Rusnok belongs to the left and joined the government led by Zeman in the early 2000s. He is believed to have difficulty getting his government approved by Parliament.
Corruption business creates government crisis
Prime Minister Petr Neča’s chief of staff and several of Neča’s employees are arrested by police suspects of corruption. The chief of staff is suspected of bribing politicians and ordering the intelligence service to conduct illegal surveillance. The scandal leads to a government crisis, where Nečas is forced to submit his resignation but leads to an expedition minister for the time being.
No charge against Klaus
The Constitutional Court announces that there is no legal basis for prosecuting the late President Václav Klaus for high treason.
Zeman takes over as president
On March 9, Zeman will take over as president.
The Senate votes to bring Klaus to trial
The Senate votes with little margin to put President Klaus on trial for high treason. This only happens a few days before his term expires. His decision to grant thousands of prisoners amnesty at the end of 2012, as well as his attempt to go against the government by not signing the Lisbon Agreement and his refusal to formally approve appointments by judges are cited as reasons. Besides risking losing his pension as president, a convict doesn’t mean much.
The government left after a distrust vote
The government survives another distrust vote in the lower house.
Zeman wins the presidential election
Nine candidates will take part in the presidential election on January 11-12. Among them are several well-known politicians, including former Socialist Prime Minister Miloš Zeman and Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg from Top 09. However, most media attention gets Vladimir Franz, an art professor and composer with tattoos on his face and all over his body. Franz has no political experience, but is well-placed in opinion polls and is especially popular with young Czechs. However, it will be Zeman and Schwarzenberg who will meet in a second round of elections, 25-26 January. There, Zeman wins with just over 55 percent of the vote.
Thousands of prisoners released in amnesty / government surviving mistrust
Outgoing President Václav Klaus pardons over 7,000 prisoners, close to a third of the country’s convicted criminals. The amnesty gets harsh criticism from the opposition as it also stops several old legal processes against corruption suspects. The dissatisfaction with the amnesty leads to the opposition directing another distrust vote against the government. The government is doing well this time as well.