Current Affairs Former president turns down chance to launch political comeback
Over the last week it appeared more than likely that former president Václav Klaus – long one of the most dominant figures on the political right – was preparing a political comeback. The final decision, it seems, came down the wire: in a statement released on Wednesday Mr Klaus said he had given the matter serious consideration, making clear his decision – in the end not to run – was not at all easy.
The last week brought increased speculation that Václav Klaus was readying to again enter the political arena, returning to party politics after two terms as president. It seems he came close, holding dozens of meetings with key supporters to discuss what it would take to launch a new party and campaign ahead of the early election.
Support from a number of former high-profile Civic Democrats, including controversial former mayor Pavel Bém and the highly-vocal Boris Štastný was fairly quick in coming but arguably none welcomed the idea of a Klaus comeback more than TV interviewer turned politician Jana Bobošíková. Her extra-parliamentary Sovereignty Party holds similar views to the former president, most notably on the European Union. Last week Právo reported the two might join forces in a new entity called Václav Klaus’ Sovereignty, a move denied by Mrs Bobošíková, who later spoke of a new party which could be called SUPR – an acronym for the words sovereignty and prosperity.
Regarding Mr Klaus’ decision in the end not to run, one of the reasons highlighted in his statement was that there was too little time ahead of the election to launch a party which would meet his full criteria. Supporters, like Jana Bobošíková, would rather have heard a different answer, but accepted his decision.
Others, such as former Civic Democrat Boris Štastný, may have felt a little blindsided. He spoke to Czech TV:
“I am ready to run for a new party led by Václav Klaus. But since no such party was created, I will not run in this election.”
The most ambivalent reaction in the end might have come from members of Mr Klaus’ own former party – the Civic Democrats. It’s no secret that some, like acting party head Martin Kuba, welcomes closer ties with the ex-president. Others, however, suggest a major role by Mr Klaus in the party is a thing of the past.
Deputy party leader Jiří Pospíšil:
“I consider Mr Klaus a very important figure of the 1990s, one of the founders of our party, and someone who laid down its political foundations. On the other hand, the party has existed for 10 years without him. I would be happy if, as part of proper political culture, the party had good ties with its founder and communicated and cooperated with him. But I don’t think that all of the problems the party faces today can somehow be miraculously dealt with by Václav Klaus.”
Even though the president will not run, he may still try and shake things up ahead of the election, possibly pledging support for a political party. The question is will it help? Some political analysts, reacting to developments, suggest the real reason Mr Klaus opted, in the end, not to run is because he is no longer nearly the political draw he once was and – learning this – chose to decline rather than face an embarrassing defeat.