Jan Macháček


Výsledky hledání

Czech Business Weekly

Czech realpolitik, or practical self-interest

14. 08. 2006
More than two months after the elections, the country was still without a new government and deputies hadn’t managed to elect a chairperson or deputy chairperson for the lower house of Parliament, leaving ample time for key players in the fiasco to evaluate each other’s dealings.

Green Party (SZ) leader Martin Bursík criticized President Václav Klaus for thinking only of securing a second term as head of state; a charge that presidential spokesman Petr Hájek and later Klaus himself said was very nasty and undeserved.

Bursík, the wild-card three-party, failed center-right coalition, an open question from day one, cast similar dispersions on Civic Democrat (ODS) leader Mirek Topolánek. Here’s a newsflash for Bursík: Politicians seek power — and like to retain it, and rational people act in their best interests, just ask any economist (and Klaus claims to be one).

No one who’s followed Klaus’ career can be surprised if the good of the nation was second on his agenda, but it seems clear that his favored solution to the political stalemate — for the Social Democrats (ČSSD) and ODS to cooperate on some level and for a new coalition with wide political support to come to power — is in the state’s interests too, as it would benefit from a modicum of political stability. Furthermore, it’s the only solution to form a government without again seeking the help of the Communists (KSČM). Klaus should have assumed the role of mediator sooner, but otherwise made no dramatic post-election missteps.

Prime Minister Jiří Paroubek, meanwhile, refused to be pushed aside or into a corner, despite the ČSSD’s election loss to the ODS. He has remained in the limelight and is acting like a winner. It’s Topolánek who’s behaving like the loser, although support for the ODS has risen steadily since the June 2–3 result.

Paroubek is getting flak for selfishly not giving Topolánek’s coalition a chance to govern. But why on earth should he? It’s not in his interests to be swept from the political scene, which ČSSD party members would surely attempt had he caved in. And a political party, like a company, seeks to maximize profit (political impact) for its members and voters.

The truly surprising behavior is the discipline in the left-wing; the great mystery being what’s keeping the Communists in line —who, aligned with the ČSSD, have half the seats in the hung Parliament but no chance to rule. The KSČM could destabilize their left wing rival by lending even temporary support to Topolánek. Is it due to Paroubek’s skill that this hasn’t happened?

Very surprising for those who saw the Greens as an unruly bunch of eccentrics is how they fell in line with the “coalition project,” which never had a chance of success. Yet Bursík has been more loyal to Topolánek these past months than any ODS deputy, and become another unoriginal Paroubek-basher. If the Greens end up in opposition (which is very probable) Bursík can’t be surprised if original green party supporters cease to trust their leaders.

As for Topolánek, he’d still need the ČSSD to agree to new elections to capitalize on the ODS’ growing support. Although he has a chance to become prime minister, Topolánek now has no chance to enact great reform. Meanwhile, Christian Democrat (KDU-ČSL) leader Miroslav Kalousek, who left one coalition and bet everything on another, will be hard pressed to see his party return to Parliament in the next elections.

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