Another senior member of Civic Democrats comes out against Vaclav Klaus

07-10-2002

When the Civic Democrats (ODS) were left out in the cold after June's elections, the party's founder and leader Vaclav Klaus refused to stand down, saying the party would decide on its future at a conference in December. Two weeks ago the first open move within the ODS against Mr Klaus came when the governor of Moravia and Silesia, Evzen Tosenovsky, announced he would stand for the post of party leader in December. Perhaps more damaging for Vaclav Klaus was deputy party leader Ivan Langer's subsequent declaration of support for Mr Tosenovsky. Now, another leading party figure, deputy chairman Petr Necas, has entered the fray, saying that if Mr Klaus remains as leader, the Civic Democrats have no chance of winning the next elections. I asked the political analyst Vaclav Zak why Vaclav Klaus was hanging on to power so tenaciously, given the growing opposition to his leadership within his party.

"Vaclav Klaus formed the ODS. When there is a founding father, so to speak, in the party, he has great respect, and it is difficult for him to leave the position. I think that Vaclav Klaus created the ODS as a highly ideological party, and he is jealous that his party would fulfil his basic aims. So I think that he doesn't see somebody who could replace him and who could maintain the profile that he thinks the ODS should have."

Some people compare Mr Klaus to Margaret Thatcher at the end of her career. How much do you agree with that comparison?

"Well, I would say that this comparison is very exact. I think that Margaret Thatcher really almost split the party, and after she left it was very difficult to find a replacement as the party was divided. I am afraid that the same fate will be faced by the ODS in our country."

How much do you think it could harm the Civic Democrats if Mr Klaus stays too much longer past his political sell by date, so to speak? Will it harm the party in the long term?

"Well I would say that it's harming the party now. If Vaclav Klaus hadn't been a candidate in this year's June elections, I think that the ODS would have maybe had better results."

07-10-2002