Before the beginning of a parliamentary meeting, the chairman of the Czech Chamber of Deputies, Radek Vondráček, welcomed his party colleague by raising his middle finger, leading the opposition to criticize him for the vulgar gesture.
Rodák z Kroměříže a předseda Poslanecké sněmovny PČR Radek Vondráček /ANO/ se na dnešním zasedáním uvedl nečekaným gestem… ?
Zkoušel to i jako zastupitel Kroměříže? ?
Gesta si všimli novináři z @enkocz pic.twitter.com/FHqgrAkzAH
— Události Brno (@UdalostiBrno) 22. ledna 2020
Vondráček, from ANO, explained that by using his middle finger, he was only responding to a similar gesture from his colleague Ladislav Okleštěk (ANO), saying it was just for fun. The lawmakers present laughed at the greetings of both colleagues, but later, Vondráček apologized.
He emphasized that he apologized to anyone in the public who might feel offended, but he would not apologize to his colleague when his greeting was only meant as a joke between the two lawmakers.
Representatives of the opposition parties criticized Vondráček for a lack of etiquette.
They also recalled a similar incident from last year when photographs and videos of Vondráček appeared showing how he transformed the Chamber of Deputies into a stage where he played guitar and sang to his colleagues.
Vondráček specified that these were performances from 2017 when the ANO movement of Prime Minister Andrej Babiš won the election. The concert was part of celebrations that followed the victory.
The current chairman of the Chamber of Deputies, who was still in the position of deputy chairman at the time of the exuberant celebration, refused to apologize for his performance. He said that while everyone has a chance to perform in concert halls, it is a unique opportunity to play in the Chamber.
According to him, the musical performance only benefited the place.
Vondráček is not the first politician to raise his middle finger in the Chamber. For example, in 2007 the then Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek greeted the former Minister of Finance Miroslav Kalousek in the same manner. He said he wanted to show him that he was “number one”.