Jan Macháček

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Czech Business Weekly

No contest as Klaus moves to relaunch pad

14. 05. 2007
Is anyone going to step forward and give our big beast president a run for his money? Or is re-election going to be a breeze for the forceful Václav Klaus, a man described by server Economist.com as “magnificently dismissive” of views other than his own.

The Civic Democrat’s (ODS) senators and MPs have unanimously nominated Klaus as their official candidate for the presidential election, and given that it’s not the people but senators and MPs who vote for their favored candidate in a secret ballot, it could be pretty crucial.

Nevertheless, not all bets are going on our abrasive head of state returning to the castle. Those believing a real rival could emerge note that a few months ago some ODS deputies were very angry with Klaus, feeling he’d damaged their party in the complicated series of negotiations held to form a coalition government after last year’s elections.

This criticism, however, seems to have abated. The ODS knows this country’s voters demand parties show unity and punish any public disputes. It’s also aware that if it manages to calm internal disputes over Klaus it will stand a better chance of pushing through the fiscal reform package due up before Parliament. Moreover, the newly harmonized attitude toward the party’s main man may quell the supposedly energetic attempts currently being made by the small parties to find an acceptable counter-candidate. It might drive home the message that anyone who stands against Klaus and fails may face public humiliation. While loving him or loathing him, a person will generally agree that Klaus is a political animal with a natural political talent. He truly enjoys the cut and thrust of political disputes and games and he basks amid the lights and cameras. He’s takes delight in not only power but also in the fight for power and doesn’t even balk at associating with Communist (KSČM) MPs if that’s what’s required to get him over the finishing line (as it was when he was elected to office last time around).

Aiming to freshen things up, former President Václav Havel consistently proposes that the president should be someone from the younger generation, a woman and preferably not aligned with any party. Word on the street, for instance, suggests Supreme State Attorney Renata Vesecká, former Academy of Sciences President Helena Illnerová and current Minister of Foreign Affairs Karel Schwarzenberg as contemplating a run.

Once safely back in office, Klaus could become some sort of unguided missile since he won’t have to be nice to anyone. One dangerous prospect is that his strange and extreme attitude toward the European Union could intensify, hurting the position of this country among the other member states. But until then, he’ll merely put himself across as a populist, always saying what people want to hear.

Note how he leaps onto the bandwagon that’s rolling against the proposed new modern national library to be built in Prague’s Letná park because he knows people are up in arms about it. And observe how he avoids speaking about whether or not the Czech Republic should go ahead and permit the Americans to build missile defense facilities on its territory.

Isn’t it too bad that nobody’s building a defense system against his potentially threatening trajectory?

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