Sixty-nine Czech MPs have this week signed a letter asking President Vaclav Klaus to give the pop singer Karel Gott an important state honour - the Order of Merit. Karel Gott, who turns 66 this Thursday, has sold many millions of albums during a career spanning three decades. Dubbed the "Sinatra of the Eastern Bloc", Gott is also very well known in countries like Poland, Russia and Germany, where he is a living legend.
But even though Karel Gott has a lot of fans who would no doubt love to see him being awarded the Order of Merit, he also has his critics. Many simply dislike his music, but others point to his willingness to co-operate with the communist regime in the past.
"The Order of Merit is not awarded only for some kind of heroism during the former regime but it is - as the title suggests - for serving the country. I think that Karel Gott has been an undisputed asset to our cultural scene, and his long-time, excellent representation of the Czech Republic abroad says it all. Actually, I think it would be quite interesting to conduct an opinion poll on the street to find out what people think. I believe most people would be in favour."
Two weeks ago a proposal to give Karel Gott the high state honour was voted down in the Chamber of Deputies. But Oldrich Nemec and other Karel Gott fans in the lower house have not given up, putting their request directly to President Klaus. He can grant the singer the award even without the recommendation of parliament. Karel Gott's many fans around the Czech Republic will be hoping the president does just that.
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