Time to remember those you serve

Opinion – Autor: Martin Jan Stransky

Today’s Czech Republic is faced with a single issue that will determine the outcome of all the rest: just how far the political establishment shall be allowed to continue on its path of complete disengagement from the voter mandate. The last elections produced a voter mandate for a center-right coalition. Instead, the left joined forces with the right. Today it is clear that the resulting opposition agreement failed in not only misrepresenting the voter mandate (from the point of view of an individual political party’s voter) but also in that its central aim of creating a common path for the nation’s future was never realized. In prioritizing political power at all costs, opposition agreement principals Vaclav Klaus, leader of the Civic Democratic Party (ODS), and Prime Minister Milos Zeman of the Social Democrats (CSSD) have progressively distanced themselves and the very process of governing from the nation itself. With the opposition agreement falling apart, Klaus is now pushing for a grand coalition, wherein everyone gets in on the power, no matter how bad they are.

All opposition will cease, except for that of the Communists, who will languish in their paradoxical new role. In this debate, there is no mention whatsoever of individual party platforms and voters’ interests, but rather which party’s leaders will end up in the political bed together. Such disregard for the electorate, along with the consolidation and control of power at all costs, in no way differs from the tactics used by Klement Gottwald and his party in 1947, and the creation of National Fronts. As was the case then, what is at stake in the Czech Republic in 1999 is nothing less than democracy itself. Two recent events further confirm this dangerous trend: While issues such as European Union entry, rising unemployment and inflation go unattended, Klaus is pushing a bill which, if passed, would restructure voting districts so that if last year’s elections were held today, the results would be completely in his party’s favor. A second bill, already drafted, proposes a change in the nation’s constitution, with a sharp curtailing of presidential powers. President Vaclav Havel has said he will resign should the changes be approved.

Both bills were created in party secretariats, pushed through the one-party puppet Cabinet and presented to Parliament for approval. In neither case were the proposed changes mentioned in the political platform of either party, nor were they subject to public discussion or referendum. Major issues in today’s Czech Republic are therefore decided via Russian-style political barter: Klaus approves Zeman’s future deficit budget only if Zeman doesn’t veto Klaus’ proposed constitutional changes and voter district bill. A situation whereby the political elite ignore their voter mandate in addressing major issues such as constitutional reform and sequester that right is untenable in a democratic society. It is for this reason that Zeman and Parliament Chairman Klaus should immediately resign and call new elections, so that citizens of the Czech Republic can once again control their future. – The writer is a physician, publisher and administrative director of the the Impuls 99 citizen’s initiative. A longer version of this piece can be found in this month’s New Presence magazine.


The Prague Post10.11.1999

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