Czech labor minister considers resigning amid Christmas party backlash

Minister of Labor and Social Affairs Marian Jurečka apologized for his failure to end the ministry's party during the mass shooting in Prague.


Written by ČTK Published on 08.01.2024 10:55:00 (updated on 08.01.2024) Reading time: 2 minutes

During an interview with Czech Television (ČT) this weekend, Minister of Labor and Social Affairs Marian Jurečka (Christian Democrats, KDU-ČSL) expressed his willingness to resign in light of the Christmas party held at the ministry during the tragic shooting at Charles University's Faculty of Arts.

Prime Minister Petr Fiala (ODS) told CNN's Prima News that he isn't currently planning to call for Jurečka's resignation. Fiala emphasized that while the minister has apologized, a more detailed explanation of the situation is necessary.

In the interview on ČT, Jurečka reiterated his apology, acknowledging the incorrect assessment of the situation and the subsequent communication surrounding the ministry's Christmas party.

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Delayed apology draws backlash

The party faced substantial criticism, especially as the tragic events unfolded, resulting in 14 casualties and 25 injuries due to an armed assailant. Jurečka's delayed apology, stating he would have ended the party sooner had he known about the tragic consequences, drew further criticism as government members had the information for several hours.

Jurečka explained that he received a text message from the government office after 5 p.m. but only read it at 6:26 p.m. He admitted to the error of not evaluating the situation to end the celebration at that time, noting that the party concluded with his departure for the government meeting, commencing at 9 p.m.

I apologize again because my assessment of ending the Christmas gathering earlier and the communication surrounding it was a mistake," the minister told ČT.

Contradicting reports from, however, claim Jurečka returned to the party after the government meeting when the shooting was resolved, the minister clarified that he stayed with around 30 close associates during that time.

He expressed regret for the earlier miscommunication but emphasized he had never lied when responding to journalists' questions.

Critics, including Josef Koukal writing in Daily Pravo, point to the fact that Jurečka's immediate response was inappropriate for his role.

Response was inappropriate say critics

"Ever since it transpired that a Christmas party with a subsequent disco was taking place on the grounds of the Agriculture Ministry at the time of the tragedy, Jurečka has been trying to portray the sequence of events in the least offensive way possible," writes Koukal.

"If it's true that information reached him late and was vague, it suggests a more significant lapse than the party's disgrace," he adds, stating that as a State Security Council member, his first words should have ended the party immediately.

"I am sorry that such a situation occurred," said PM Fiala, acknowledging that the situation should have been handled differently. Fiala stressed that Jurečka must now provide a comprehensive explanation despite the minister's apology and admission of his mistake.

Jurečka indicated his readiness to consider offering his resignation when discussing the matter with the prime minister on Saturday. The party's national committee will address the situation, and according to Seznam Zprávy, the KDU-ČSL presidency will review it on Tuesday.

The tragic shooting occurred on Dec. 21, 2023, at the Faculty of Arts of Charles University, resulting in 13 initial casualties and an additional death in the hospital. The perpetrator, a 24-year-old faculty student from central Bohemia, was linked by the police to last year's murder of a man and his two-month-old daughter on the outskirts of Prague on Dec. 15, based on ballistics evidence.

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