Environment and Democracy in the Czech Republic
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Environment and Democracy in the Czech Republic

The Environmental Movement in the Transition Process

Adam Fagan

Environment and Democracy in the Czech Republic offers a radical perspective on the democratisation process, revealing the extent to which the consolidation of a politically efficacious and diverse civil society is far more complex than the earlier generation of commentators acknowledged. The environmental movement has not flourished under political democracy; its radical activists have been marginalized and targeted by the state, their ideologies and strategies compromised and their critical voice silenced. Yet the book concludes that whilst the mainstream environmental movement has become institutionalised and appears incapable of representing community interests, the environmental issue retains the capacity to mobilise, this time against the neo-liberal agenda of the democratic government.
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Chapter 4: The Development of the Czech Environmental Movement, 1990–2000

Adam Fagan


INTRODUCTION This chapter will trace the development of the Czech environmental movement during the first post-communist decade, a period of supposed democratic consolidation. In addition to charting the evolution of the movement, the political and economic constraints on EMOs will be analysed, particular attention being paid to the issue of access to and conditionality of resources, the impact of the political process or political opportunity structure, and the extent to which the specific political and economic context during the 1990s shaped environmental protest and conditioned the strategic choices of activists. For the environmental movement, as with many aspects of political, social and economic activity in the Czech Republic, the period was one of considerable flux. A brief interlude of unprecedented political influence in the early 1990s was followed by a nadir of isolation and marginalisation (1992–7) reminiscent of the communist period. From 1997 until the end of the decade the professional organisations that had become the institutionalised expression of the green movement enjoyed a certain degree of political access and influence within the re-ignited policy process. Such flux is perhaps surprising insofar as one might have assumed that, once the authoritarian system gave way to democratic institutions and procedure, the country was on a firmly established democratic course, and the position of associations and other emblems of democratic society would gradually have improved and evolved. What the case of the Czech environmental movement suggests is that the introduction of political democracy can, in the short-term at least, be destabilising...

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