Survey shows most Czechs opposed to Václav Havel airport honor

Survey shows more Czechs opposed than in favor of renaming Prague’s international airport after Václav Havel

Czechs are divided about how to honor the memory of former president Václav Havel | na serveru Lidovky.cz | aktuální zprávy Czechs are divided about how to honor the memory of former president Václav Havel | foto: © IlustraČeská pozice
Czechs are divided about how to honor the memory of former president Václav Havel

More Czechs are opposed to renaming the country’s main international airport after former dissident leader and president Václav Havel than in favor, according to a survey carried by a top polling agency.

The survey by the CVVM agency found that 49 percent of Czechs questioned were opposed to the honor being bestowed on Havel, who died on December 18 last year aged 75. Thirty-nine percent were in favor with 12 percent expressing no opinion.

The Czech government decided after much dithering to go ahead with renaming Prague’s Ruzyně International Airport after Havel last month. A petition calling for the honor to be bestowed on Havel, who led the dissident opposition to the more than 40-year-old communist regime and later went on to become head of state of former Czechoslovakia and the Czech Republic, was signed by more than 82,000 people with widow Dagmar in the forefront of calls for the airport renaming

But some of Havel’s former aides suggested he would have preferred nothing so ostentatious and pointed out his fear of flying.

The survey carried out in February found that Havel’s legacy divides Czechs with 39 percent of respondents saying that he made poor political decisions during his term as head of state with 47 percent disagreeing.

Opinion in neighboring Slovakia was divided over Havel, the survey showed. He was often perceived as a symbol of a Czech-dominated administration during his short spell as president of Czechoslovakia before the country split in 1993.

Havel’s appreciation was strong in Poland, where around a third disagreed with the statement that he made poor political decisions but just under half had no opinion. The survey showed 44 percent of Hungarians polled had not heard of Havel.

He came out better as a moral standard bearer with 78 percent of Czechs agreeing that the upheld values that are important for today’s society with 65 percent of Slovaks, 59 percent of Poles and 34 percent of Hungarians supporting that view.

The name change of the airport should take place by October 5 although the rather clumsy version of the hub’s new title in English “Prague Airport –Vaclav Havel” has stirred up another ongoing argument.