Minister under pressure to resign for partying on night of Prague shooting

Marian Jurečka

Labour and Social Affairs Minister Marian Jurečka has come under increasing pressure to resign over a Christmas party held at the ministry on the night of the tragic shooting at the Faculty of Arts.  The minister has apologized for what he called “poor judgement” and said he was prepared to resign if the prime minister asked him to go.

The enormity of the brutal attack at the Prague Faculty of Arts at first blocked out all else, but a few days after the shooting, the news site idnes shocked readers with the information that a Christmas party at the Labour and Social Affairs Ministry held that day continued late into the night, regardless of the tragedy in the city center.

Photo: René Volfík,

Under fire from the media and the opposition, Minister Jurečka said information about the shooting had not filtered through to the party and he himself had only checked his mobile phone after 5pm to find a message about the emergency cabinet session called by the prime minister that evening. The minister originally said the party had ended at 9 pm, but was later forced to admit that he returned there, after the cabinet session, at close to 11pm and rejoined the remaining 30 or 40 people who were still partying.

The opposition has called him out for “shockingly inappropriate behavior” and lying, arguing that by 6pm politicians around Europe were aware of what was going on in Prague and it was highly unlikely that as Czech deputy prime minister he would have been left in the dark or that none of the 300 guests partying would have checked their mobile phones. There were calls for his dismissal if he failed to resign of his own accord.

While clearly unhappy about the situation, Prime Minister Petr Fiala said Jurečka’s dismissal was not on the cards.

Petr Fiala | Photo: Office of Czech Government

“I am deeply sorry that such a thing has happened. It was a mistake and Marian Jurečka has admitted to it. He has apologized and now he needs to explain what happened and why it happened. I myself am satisfied with the explanation he gave me, but he owes an explanation to the public.”

At the weekend, Minister Jurečka, who heads the Christian Democratic Party, offered fresh apologies to the public for not cutting the party short and for having omitted to say that he rejoined it after the late night government session.

“I apologize for not having stopped the party when I learnt what was happening and for not communicating clearly about what went on that day. I deeply regret what happened and if I offended anyone’s feelings, then I apologize for everything, once again. “

Marian Jurečka  (in the middle) on Václav Moravec's programme on Czech Television. | Photo: Czech Television

The minister said on Czech Television that in a private conversation with the prime minister he had made it clear he was ready to quit if that was the solution the prime minister wanted. But there has been no sign so far that the prime minister wants to push things to a head.

A meeting of the Christian Democratic Party leadership is due to discuss the matter on Tuesday evening.

Author: Daniela Lazarová | Sources: Česká televize , Český rozhlas
run audio