Time for a New President

The Czech Constitutional Court recently annulled a law passed by parliament which proposed that the date of the parliamentary election be moved up to this October from the scheduled date in the spring of 2010. The aim of the initiative was that the relatively strong parties consolidate their positions in the face of emerging newer smaller parties. The Court pointed out that it in no way “opposed the MPs” as some claimed, but rather that the MPs had ignored an already standing constitutional mechanism for parliament to dissolve itself and call elections. The Court also pointed out something more substantive: the Constitution is not a document to be changed due to momentary political whims.

The Court’s decision was accepted by the heads of all political parties and major politicians except President Václav Klaus and the Communists. In response to the decision, Klaus stated that “it will now be necessary to draft a new definition of the powers of the Constitutional Court.”

Such statements are in keeping with Klaus’ points of view, which were formed entirely as a member and beneficiary of the communist state: Klaus’ tuition for his economic studies outside of Czechoslovakia were paid for by the state, and his ability to travel outside of the country signifies collaboration. All this has influenced Klaus’ view on democracy today.

Klaus, who has been labeled by prominent psychologists as a pathologically flawed narcissist, views himself as a post-communist absolute ruler, pronouncing that “judges usurp the power which legitimately belongs in democracies to politicians.” Klaus views society as a division of classes and estranges Czech citizens and organizations via labels such as “flawed intellectual dissidents” and “NGO-ites.” To shore up his appeal, Klaus continues to lean heavily on nationalistic and populist arguments, creating absurd threats, such as his pronouncement that the EU represents a greater threat than communism did.

Klaus’ latest tactic has succeeded in getting him what he wants most: world attention. No, it’s not his absolute denial of global warming, but rather his refusal to sign the Lisbon Treaty, which has been ratified by every EU Member State, including the parliament of the Czech Republic. Klaus has stalled the process by calling for an opt-out clause and by sending the Treaty to the Czech Constitutional Court for a second time claiming that it is incompatible with the Czech Constitution. The Court will undoubtedly dismiss both claims, and 500 million Europeans will again turn to Klaus to sign.

Klaus has thus succeeded in putting himself and the Czech Republic in the spotlight, but for all the wrong reasons and with bad consequences for the Czech nation. It is precisely because of this that some MPs and authors are pointing to his sabotage of the Czech democratic process, a process which Klaus understands too well and uses only to his own advantage. Such tactics were exactly what the founders of Czechoslovakia – T.G. Masaryk and my great-grandfather Adolf Stránský – fought against in their struggle to establish a free state.

P.S.: Yielding to intense pressure Klaus did indeed sign the treaty a week after this piece was written, claiming that the fight was not over yet.


The New Presenceautumn 2009

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