Concern over the Czech Republic political class and chance to pursue the dream of the Velvet Revolution while the economy is slowly climbing along the path of recovery

Scandals, spying, stolen photographs, eggs and stones at the centre of the debate between the parties. The political programs on stand-by because of the crisis.

2009 was, for many Czechs, to be a year for the enhancement and improvement of the image of their Country, to remind the world of that historic event of unimaginable and emotional unity of ideas and sentiments which led to the Velvet Revolution, whose twentieth anniversary will be celebrated this year.
An occasion which, together with the European Union Presidency term and with Prague at the centre of the international political scenario, had given hope for Czech political stability, with the objective of appearing before the world, the EU partners and investors as a natural evolution of that democracy
which had been strongly pursued and eagerly craved for in 1989. A few of the premises have been maintained, even if deep political uncertainty still remains, also for possible future government scenarios even at institutional level – which many experts do not hesitate to define as being in crisis.
In such a context, despite its economy, which on an international scale, is holding out better compared to many other countries, with signs of recovery, the main news has centred around the ex premier, Mirek Topolanek, photographed stark naked when he was a guest at Silvio Berlusconi’s villa in Sardinia, the eggs thrown at the Social-democrat leader Jiri Paroubek during his campaign for the European elections, the fall of the government, the holiday in Tuscany of the conservative leader, seen with lobbyists and business people of doubtful integrity. Accusations which have monopolized the attention of the Czechs, making the Czech political crisis increasingly evident and unable, according to many analysts, to set an example and break away from the logic of these scandals, of the ridicule films and anonymous publicity in order to win against political opponents.

Uncertainties, which will undoubtedly have their effect on the future scenarios of the government. The anticipated political elections, that should have taken place in October, have just been suspended by the Constitutional Court, even if the electoral campaign was already in progress. It criticized the self-assured manner in which the parties believed they could run the constitutional rules.
The result is that, most probably, the present government, led by the statistician Jan Fischer who, without a political majority, now faces the task of balancing accounts for the year 2010 – a particularly difficult year for Czech public finance.
Czech politicians are already concerned about what might happen in 2010, once the elections have taken place, and the political balance, suitable enough to ensure stability to the country. The possible risk envisaged so far is that, also next spring when the regular term of government comes to end, what happened in June might repeat itself. At the time, the Ods party of Topolanek obtained the majority, but was obliged to form an alliance with the Christian- democrats, the Green party and two runaway members of parliament in order to reach 101 votes necessary to form a government.

Anyway, the Czech Republic is destined to lose six more months, in order to form a government based on a true political majority. A government that is able to make difficult decisions such as facing the economic crisis. An executive that is able to get seriously involved in foreign policy in order to strengthen relations with the Obama administration and that is able to control tensions with Russia.
Moreover, some Czech political observers have been pointing out that there is an inspirational need for a model of greater stability.
More precisely, as some experts put it, there are two alternatives: to form large alliances as in Austria, or the German tradition of solidity of the state subject to the rule of law. Critics, however, have taken advantage of Topolanek’s holiday at the Argentario to develop an inconvenient parallel between Czech and Italian politics or better still, what they in the Czech Republic define as “Berlusconi style”. Meetings on luxurious yachts, mysterious villas with business men and characters of doubtful morality, have attracted journalists and writers to underline the similarities between the Czech system – which seems to be more closely related to the Italian one rather than to Austria, a country that is closer.
A situation that, undoubtedly, is particularly worrying and that shows clearly a deviation from the ideals of 1989 and what the Czech Republic could have become.

By Daniela Mogavero