In an interview with our correspondent Dominik Jůn, political analyst Jiří Pehe assesses the impact of president Klaus’s re-election:
What is your reaction to the news that Václav Klaus has been re-elected president in the third round of voting?
“Well I think that Klaus was the favourite from the beginning and in my opinion his opponent Jan Švejnar put up a very good fight. The fact that the incumbent president was elected in the third round of the second presidential election is certainly a success for his opponent as well.”
Do you think that there will now be recriminations within the so-called pro-Švejnar coalition as to why their candidate did not win and defeat Klaus?
“I am afraid that the way that this election was handled by the political parties will mark the Czech political system for some time to come. I think that unfortunately some of the charges are very serious and it seems that the democratic process was really undermined in this case and some electors voted for Mr Klaus under circumstances which are very unclear and therefore I think that the Social Democratic Party, the Greens and the Communists will try to use this to their advantage.”
“Yes, I think so in that in the previous election in 2003, Mr Klaus’s victory was soured by the fact that he was elected with the help of the communists and this was widely known and later confirmed. Now I think that the selection will be soured by the fact that there are serious charges of corruption and extortion and so on under which it seems that some deputies and senators changed their party dresses. So I think that that may really be a serious problem in the months to come and we’ll see what it means for Czech politics and the ruling coalition as well.”
And what can we expect both from a second Klaus term as well as from the coalition government with the recent spat between the Greens and the Civic Democrats?
“I think that Mr Klaus will be very free in his second term – he cannot be a candidate or president again and I think he is the kind of politician who tends to be very pro-active and he will certainly use this to his advantage to put forward his political agenda which is strong anti-European views and his views on global climate change as well as his other views and that may be a problem. Also I think that Mr Klaus may now be freer to make order within his own party, which he used to be chairman of and now he may be tempted to interfere more with party affairs. So if I were Mr Topolánek, the Prime Minister and chairman of the Civic Democratic Party, I would probably be a bit worried.”
And what about the future of the coalition?
“I think that the coalition is already strained. It is possible that some of the wounds that were already inflicted on it during this presidential election may be healed but very soon it will be under strain again and it may be seriously challenged by some upcoming vote such as the American radar in the Czech Republic and some other developments as well as by the regional elections in the Fall. So I don’t think that this coalition has great chances to survive until 2010.”