According to a recent survey by STEM/MARK, Vaclav Havel is still the most favoured “Post November” (Post Velvet Revolution) Czech president by Czech people.
Havel, the last president of Czechoslovakia and the first president of the Czech Republic, scored highest with almost every age group, including the over 60 years old demographic who was thought to be totally dedicated to current president Miloš Zeman.
Jan Burianec of STEM/MARK said Zeman’s loss of popularity is likely due to his total absence from the media, rarely making any sort of statements or appearances and slipping away from the news cycles.
“We believe this is probably because of the President’s lack of media presence during the first wave of the coronavirus crisis when the elderly, who were the most endangered, missed out on any empathy or words of support from the president,” Burianec said.
Vaclav Klaus finished in second place in the survey, between Havel and Zeman.
Havel, often remembered by his iconic flashing of the peace sign, was an enemy of the communist regime, spending years of his life in forced labour camps for his political dissidency. One of his most well-known essays is “The Power Of the Powerless” (1978), where he describes living under communism as “living within a lie.”
Havel was seen as something as a martyr for anti-communism, having suffered the full wrath of the regime; He had his properties seized, businesses shut down, passport confiscated, and was denied easy access to educated growing up because his family was “bourgeois.”
He was elected in massive landslide victories by the Czechs, and went on to be instrumental in important milestones for the country and Europe at large, such as the Velvet Revolution, dismantling the Warsaw Pact, and expanding NATO membership to Eastern countries.
“We never decided to become dissidents. We have been transformed into them, without quite knowing how, sometimes we have ended up in prison without precisely knowing how. We simply went ahead and did certain things that we felt we ought to do, and that seemed to us decent to do, nothing more nor less.” -Vaclav Havel