H/T Rose, and following on from yesterday’s Czech-related post:
Failure of smoking ban bill sparks coalition war of words
26-05-2016 13:06 | Ian Willoughby
The latest failed attempt to ban smoking in Czech pubs and restaurants has left the country’s government looking distinctly shaky. Since Wednesday’s lower house vote coalition partners ANO and the Social Democrats have each been blaming the other for the collapse of the much-discussed bill.
A motion to ban smoking in Czech pubs and restaurants fell eight votes short of approval in the Chamber of Deputies on Wednesday.
The bill originally prepared by the Social Democrat minister of health, Svatopluk Němeček, had been approved by the coalition. However, only 13 of ANO’s 47 deputies voted with the rest of the government in the lower house.
The Social Democrats immediately cried foul, with leader Bohuslav Sobotka accusing ANO of ensuring the country remained an “outdoor museum” of smoking. “It’s a disgrace!” tweeted Mr. Sobotka.
Minister Němeček echoed those sentiments on a Czech Television debate show.
“I regard today as a tragic day in the Chamber of Deputies as regards protecting the public from smoking. The Chamber killed a bill that was worked on for a very long time. It will take us a long time to get back to where we were.”
ANO representatives have shot back furiously. They say that the legislation rejected had undergone so many changes in the lower house – including allowing for smoking areas in pubs – that it actually ended up being a pro-smoking bill.
This is a (renewed) welcome vote for tolerance and consideration towards smokers.
The “museum” jibe presumably means that the Czech Republic will remain “behind the times”, “mired in the past”, etc, etc, having failed to “get with the program”. For most – if not all – of the antismoking politicians probably believe that the future is going be smoke-free, and any attempts to forestall this will only temporarily delay the inevitable.
But I hope that history will record that Czech lawmakers stood almost alone in Europe against a form of unnecessary and deeply divisive legislation that had already been driven through most other European parliaments. I think people are going to be asking one day “How did we get to do something so stupid, so mean, so nasty, so divisive? Were we all crazy?”
Unfortunately confident predictions of the future seem endemic these days. Some sort of utopian vision of the future (socialist, Green, carbon-neutral, smoke-free, etc.) comes to be regarded as inevitable, and everyone believes that history is going in that direction, almost like it’s rolling down a railroad track.
One recent example of this is Barack Obama saying:
“Mr. Trump is not succeeding me.”
And another is Nancy Pelosi saying:
“Donald Trump is not going to be President of the United States,” Pelosi said on the latest episode of Recode Decode, hosted by Kara Swisher. “Take it to the bank, I guarantee it.”
No doubt both of them sincerely hope that Donald Trump will not be the next President of the United States, but wishing something will be true doesn’t actually make it true.
What they both really mean is that such an outcome is unthinkable or unimaginable, and they are unable to contemplate the possibility. And that’s really more a reflection of their own dogmatic thought processes than anything else.
For actually, as far as I can see, it’s an outcome that is becoming increasingly likely, given that Donald Trump has now not only acquired more than the 1,237 delegates needed to become the Republican nominee, but has also caught up with Hillary Clinton in US opinion polls.
Nothing is inevitable.