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Monthly Digest

July 2021

Czech Republic

Polls suggested a resurgence for ANO, the party of ruling prime minister Andrej Babiš, and a slump for the Pirates+STAN coalition. ANO retook the lead in the polls while the Pirates slumped to third, behind the SPOLU coalition.

Coronavirus cases in the Czech Republic remained low as the vaccine rollout progressed. The majority of shops and services operated with limited restrictions still in place.

The country was swept by two social justice movements in response to national scandals. Revelations about the misconduct of Dominik Feri of the TOP 09 party caused a wave of #MeToo sentiment, while the death of a Roma man in Teplice following police intervention led to comparisons with the death of George Floyd in America.

Slovakia

Slovakia introduced a “lottery” system to encourage vaccine uptake amid a slump in the rollout. With only around 40% of the population taking up the jab, the lottery offered cash incentives: a EUR 2 million prize was available each week along with cash bonuses for those who persuaded others to get the jab.

Slovakia also introduced a mandatory quarantine period for unvaccinated travellers, essentially making travel abroad difficult for unvaccinated members of the population.

Coronavirus incidence in the country remained low, and fell to one of the lowest rates in Europe in the latter part of the month.

Poland

Poland’s rule of law dispute with the EU reached a new level of intensity as the ECJ imposed a deadline of August 16th for the disbanding of the country’s controversial Disciplinary Chamber for judges. Polish politicians adopted increasingly hostile rhetoric, describing the EU as taking a “colonialist” attitude towards central and eastern European members.

Donald Tusk announced his return to Polish politics as the leader of the Civic Platform opposition party. Tusk said he was returning to fight the “evil” of the PiS government.

Poland expressed consternation as Germany and the USA agreed on a deal for the completion of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project at the end of the month, arguing the project will undermine regional security.

Hungary

Hungary’s controversial anti-LGBT legislation came into effect, blocking the dissemination of LGBT-positive content in any material accessible to minors. The law caused uproar around the world. The Budapest Pride parade went ahead despite the legislative change.

The EU sent back Hungary’s pandemic recovery plan, demanding further safeguarding against corruption in Hungary’s use of EU money. The Fidesz government claimed the EU’s rejection of the economic plan was in reality down to Brussels’ opposition to the new anti-LGBT law.

The government became embroiled in international scandal due to the Pegasus Project, an investigation into the use of spyware on journalists and public figures around the world, including in Hungary. Fidesz claimed to have no knowledge of the use of the software, although circumstantial evidence pointed towards government involvement in the use of Pegasus on Hungarian civilians.