A time to choose

Communists’ succcess requires Czechs to say no’ to a dreadful past

The recent election results, in which the Communist Party received nearly 19 percent of the vote, took most people by surprise – like receiving an unexpectedly poor report card. It was as if, after spending too much time at the mall and in front of the TV, parents suddenly found out they had an enfant terrible under their own roof. Virtually all analysts predicted that the elections would be significant. They were right, but for the wrong reasons. Instead of the possibility of the continuation of the so-called opposition agreement,” which would have virtually cemented all power in the hands of two political parties, came an apparent step backward with the return” of the Communists. The Communist advance illustrated the most serious post-1989 mistake: not having outlawed the party. The reality is that our constitution protects a political force that supports totalitarianism and refuses to renounce the murders and tortures it committed in the past. Despite its electoral showing, party head Miroslav Grebenicek was turned away from President Vaclav Havel’s office.  

This moral-political paradox places Czech society in a schizophrenic position.The choice facing Czechs is clear: Should we further legitimize the Communist Party as it stands, choosing to work with it, or should we heal ourselves? For democratic legislators, the political isolation of the Communist Party should be immediate and total. At the same time, the finances of the party should be swiftly and thoroughly probed in an effort to discover where billions of crowns disappeared to after the revolution.As a minority party, the Communists have enjoyed relative isolation from public scrutiny. That time is over now. In securing their current mandate – 44 seats in the Chamber of Deputies – the Communists will need to start to work democratically in a democratic Parliament. Differences of opinion within the party will necessarily surface, leading to internal discussion (and dissent). But this is something that comrade Grebenicek and company will be unable to tolerate. The Communists will never reform themselves. They will, on the contrary, remain ossified at the parliamentary level.

In fact, unless there is true reform within the party, it may cease to be, of its own accord.During the first postelection debate among party leaders, comrade Grebenicek shouted down Freedom Union party chief Hana Marvanova with the words: You only got eight seats and we got 44. The people don’t like you anymore!”Now is the time that we as citizens decide what and whom we really like and don’t like: Will it be the demagoguery, simple-mindedness and populistic arrogance of Grebenicek and company, or a future in the European Union and in Europe, secured by a just democracy with access for everyone? We now have the opportunity to not just move forward into a brighter future, but to erase a dark part of our past as well. 

– The writer is a Prague physician and the publisher of The New Presence.


The Prague Post3.7.2002

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