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“Our support is growing. We have every hall full.” At the end of October, the chairman of the non-parliamentary party PRO, Jindřich Rajchl, said this in the podcast Seznam Zpráv Ptám se I, when he expressed his concern that support for his movement is not decreasing. Seznam Zpráv reporters therefore went on several of Rajchlo’s “sleepy rides”, as his movement calls them, to see for themselves.
A rainy early evening in Vrchlabí in the Giant Mountains does not offer a view of a full hall. Five minutes before the start of the event, scheduled for 6 p.m., the first two rows are barely filled. Later, a few more people arrive, but even so, less than a quarter of the roughly three hundred chairs are filled.
A week before in Jablonec nad Nisou, Rajchl organized a meeting from 6 pm in a hotel in the city center. Even there, only the front rows were filled, and there were already many empty seats. A Seznam Zpráv reporter counted around a hundred people in the hall half an hour after the meeting began.
And not everyone lasts until the end. The couple, who sat next to Seznam Zpráv reporters in Vrchlabí, left the debate even before the arrival of Jindřich Rajchl, who arrived almost fifty minutes late.
Rajchl runs all the meetings according to the same pattern, where he keeps the excited audience waiting for tens of minutes like a rock star.
The scenario is the same every time. The moderator of the event apologizes to Rajchla for being late on the way, but it doesn’t matter, because one of his forerunners is already ready on the spot, who pours out the topics that the visitors want to hear – expensive energy, inflation, the conflict in Ukraine and others.
After about 45 minutes, Rajchl arrives, apologizing for the delay with a bon mot alluding to some current topic. In the past two weeks, he explained his delay by saying that on the way they stopped in Germany/Poland (it depends on the location to which they arrive) to buy Nutella there.
An allusion to the not-so-successful video of Prime Minister Petr Fiala (ODS) always works. The audience suddenly comes alive after tens of minutes of rigidly listening to the lectures of Rajchl’s forerunners.
He says what I think
The motivation of visitors is different. For some, the conviction that Rajchl will get the Czech Republic in shape, for others, disappointment in political developments or a certain curiosity. Mrs. Hana from Jablonec came because she is a disappointed voter of the Together coalition.
“Mr. Rajchl says what I think. The current government is a disaster. Unfortunately, the last time I voted for the one that rules here, that is, the Spolu coalition. There was a clear Antibabiš program,” says Mrs. Hana, who does not forget to criticize the media and journalists. This unites most people who come to listen to Rajchl.
Many of them therefore do not want to share their opinion. They often talk about the media publishing only selected opinions. But they don’t want to have theirs published. “What I like most about Mr. Rajchl is his honesty… wait, which medium did you say you were from?” Suddenly a sporty dressed senior with a glass of beer in his hand, who came to a Vrchlab event, stops.
The female reporters introduce themselves to him for the second time, and they can no longer get an opinion on Rajchlo from the senior. “I won’t even put her on the List!” he gets upset and blurts out something about how journalists are as rude as monkeys when they allow themselves to go to such events and talk to their participants.
Mr. Zdeněk is retired and came to Jablonec from nearby Smržovka. Like Mrs. Hana, he is dissatisfied with the government of Petr Fiala.
“I mainly don’t like what our government is doing. He doesn’t care about our people, look at how much energy costs, why does everyone go shopping in Poland? That industry will go away too. I’m not saying that Mr. Rajchl is a savior, but someone needs to stand up and say enough to this government. The ANO movement does not satisfy me, even though I voted for Babiš in the presidential elections,” says Mr. Zdeněk.
Disappointed voters of government parties
The meeting is often attended by voters who voted for the ANO or SPD movement in the last elections. But it was not a problem to encounter disappointed voters of the governing parties. In Žatec, reporters spoke with a blonde woman in her sixties, who was happy to share her opinions, but refused to give her name. “I used to vote for ODS, but they disappointed me,” she explained. At the moment, he is said to be more inclined towards the PRO movement or Svobodny. In the future, the decision will still be made between these two.
In Vrchlabí, the reporters also encountered a disappointed voter of the government’s Pirates. “They pissed me off that they didn’t go into opposition. Immediately after the elections, the Pirates began to be dealt with fraudulently, they should have gone to the opposition right away,” explains a middle-aged woman who is said to be from Prague, but has a cottage in Vrchlabí. However, he cannot elaborate more and justify his opinion on the situation of the Pirates after the elections. Currently, only the PRO movement is number one for her.
“Rajchl appeals to us with an unconventional concept and patriotism. In the last election, I voted for the Together coalition because I hoped that such a diverse grouping would have to find a common path. They found her, but for themselves. Lies bother me the most. They denied everything they promised,” complains pensioner Ernesto in Jablonec nad Nisou.
Most of the people who come to these events are rather older. But sometimes you can also come across younger people, roughly in their forties to fifties. The well-dressed couple who sat in one of the back rows of the cultural center in Vrchlabí is also of that age.
It turns out that he belongs to the harder core of Rajchl’s fans. “I go to all meetings and demonstrations, follow the state budget and all political debates. All of Rajchl’s forecasts have come true so far,” reveals the man, who, unlike his partner, is more talkative. She just nods in agreement.
He also nods to his opinion that “there has never been such a bad government in the Czech Republic”. “The Czech Republic is not fighting for us and is just completing the looting of our state,” he says, adding that he is sorry that few young people attend these events.
His opinion is also shared by a slightly drunk man who sat down next to the reporters and started a conversation with them himself. “Girls, listen carefully, you still have a life ahead of you!” He gives them advice for life. However, Rajchl will not be able to see his performance, because he and his partner get up and leave the hall before his arrival.
Not a single crown for Ukraine, he says from the stage
The head of the PRO movement knows very well what worries people and adapts his speech to it, which has been in all places in the last two weeks as if through a photocopier.
His speech could be summed up in a few points – criticism of the government of Petr Fiala and the head of the House of Representatives and the president of TOP 09 Markéta Pekarová Adamová in connection with the trips to Taiwan or the war in Ukraine.
Rajchlo’s September demonstration
See how it looked this September at the anti-government demonstration that Jindřich Rajchl organized on Wenceslas Square. Fewer people came than at previous events.
“I refuse to support Ukraine both financially and in terms of weapons,” Rajchl proclaimed on stage.
In this context, Rajchl also criticized the purchase of American F-35 fighters or infantry fighting vehicles from Sweden. Defense Minister Jana Černochová (ODS) is not shy about being referred to as a “teenage girl with a credit card in a toy store” in connection with military purchases, which, like other invectives that Rajchl pours one after the other from her sleeve, provokes the expected laughter and applause from the audience.
Rajchl ended the speech by saying that he despised and despised President Petr Pavl (he did not forget to add a slightly sweaty joke about the IQ of the Pavlov couple) and that he offered the path of Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico or Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán.
Moments later, he thunders that Beneš’s decrees are inviolable, which is met with enthusiastic applause, especially in Vrchlabí.
He also subjects the young generation, who are not frequent visitors to his “sleepy rides”, to criticism when he starts talking about the degradation of morals among young people who do not respect their parents. “They touch everyone right away, they make jokes, they call it pranks, they are rude and vulgar,” he says, and more than one senior nods in agreement.
And Rajchl will also offer a solution, which according to him are the three deepest roots – faith, family and homeland. “Man is like a tree, he falls without roots,” he philosophizes towards the end of his performance.