Czech resident Christine clearly feels the pinch of soaring prices and worries the situation will only get worse in winter.
"Prices (for a living) are really higher now," the woman told Xinhua Monday, sitting on Wenceslas Square in downtown Prague. She pointed out specifically that energy prices would herald a tough winter.
Thousands Demand the Resignation of the Government in Prague
On Saturday, an estimated 70,000 people participated in a demonstration right here on the square. Under the slogan of "Czech Republic First," it was a joint rally of organizations and parties that disagree with the current government policy and demand a change.
The participants criticized the soaring energy prices in the country and demanded "an immediate capping of electricity prices" and "secure, direct contracts with gas suppliers at low prices."
They also called for the resignation of the government and military neutrality. Some carried banners voicing sentiments against the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the European Union (EU), the Green Deal and the Czech government's stance on Russia.
Christine, who works near the demonstration scene, said she saw "a lot of people" but was not interested in the demonstration herself. "It's kind of useless," she said.
Year-on-year inflation in the Czech Republic reached a dizzying 17.5 percent in July, according to figures published by the Czech Statistical Office (CSU). Soaring energy prices were the major driving force behind the inflation.
The Czech National Bank (CNB) predicted that inflation would peak at just above 20 percent in the coming months and slow down only next year.
The cost of living "is much worse than before," Vaclav, a teacher, told Xinhua at the square. "Everybody feels prices are getting higher."
Vaclav said he was still able to handle the situation, but worried that some of his friends would have "bigger problems."
His colleague, Wojciech, agreed that energy prices are very high, and expected hard times.
"Now I'm single without children, so I can still afford it," said the physical education teacher. "But if I have children next year, then it will be very, very hard times for me."
Calling herself a middle-class, local resident Marta said she kept saving in "some fields," and could manage the high living cost to a "certain extent at the moment." However, she was concerned about those "who are at the edge of their income until now," like some of the demonstrators.
"Any further price rise could lead to a serious social and economic problem," she said. "Many people here just cannot afford to live anymore."
As the country that currently holds the rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union (EU), the Czech Republic has called for an extraordinary meeting of the EU Energy Council on Sept. 9 to fix the energy market and find solutions on the European level.
The Czech government last month also approved an assistance package of 177 billion Czech crowns to help households cope with high inflation ahead of the coming winter season. (1 Czech crown = 0.04 U.S. dollar)