Has the government crisis brought a new political era to the Czech Republic?

26-04-2005

The Czech Republic has a new prime minister and a new government. At the inauguration ceremony at Prague Castle on Monday, President Vaclav Klaus appointed Jiri Paroubek's 18-member "old-new" cabinet. "Old-new" because, with the exception of four ministers, this government is made up of the same members and parties as that of Mr Paroubek's predecessor Stanislav Gross.

The new government of Jiri Paroubek, photo: CTKThe new government of Jiri Paroubek, photo: CTK So, the fourteen-week long government crisis has come to an end. But has it left a mark on the Czech political scene? Some independent commentators such as Ivan Gabal say it has actually benefited the country:

"I think we have witnessed the end of a political transition period in the Czech Republic. The whole crisis was encouraged by irregularities in the private finances of the prime minister and an increasing criticism of a lack of transparency in his family business, performed by his wife. That was the first case in Czech politics. It may have taken fourteen weeks but Prime Minister Gross had to resign and the government was reformed. I think this new experience shows that non-transparent economic activities are dangerous now, especially for politicians."

So you think that there is something positive that has come out of it all?

President Vaclav Klaus and Jiri Paroubek, photo: CTKPresident Vaclav Klaus and Jiri Paroubek, photo: CTK "I would expect that there might be a positive and healthy impact on the long-term. The Czech Republic is really in a bad situation as far as corruption is concerned and we have to start cleaning the house from the top to the bottom and unless we clean Czech politics we cannot continue down towards other parts of the administration and government agencies."

Of course, the whole crisis began by an article in a Czech newspaper. Do you think that the Czech media is going to be on the look out from now on?

"I think that this was the first case when media pressure was taken seriously by politicians and resulted in the resignation of the prime minister. As far as I know from some journalists, I think they are ready to continue to clean the house on the Czech political scene one by one. Last but not least, we have witnessed the re-introduction of public interest, represented by people from academic and intellectual circles, intervening and pressing for the prime minister's resignation. There were also people from the fields of art and culture and even some business people who used billboards to put pressure on the prime minister. So, I think we have seen a certain refreshing re-introduction of civil society in Czech public life and that might be a very healthy shift."

26-04-2005