Petition signed to weaken role of Communist Party in Czech politics


"Don't meet with the communists!" That's the gist of the petition recently signed by 250 intellectuals. They want to convince other political parties not to meet with the Communist Party. For 13 years then President Vaclav Havel isolated the communist voice in Czech politics. Now President Vaclav Klaus is giving the Communist Party the chance to participate. Votes cast by communists in Parliament helped Mr. Klaus secure the Czech presidency in late February. When President Klaus invited the traditionally euro-pessimistic communists to take part in a meeting about the Czech Republic's role in the European Union, the conflict came to a head. The result is a petition presented to Parliament last Tuesday. Can it make a difference? I spoke with one of the petition's first signatories, artist David Cerny.

"For me negotiating with the communists now, especially after the vote of our President, is an example of dealing with crimes and dealing with evil. This is just the next step to saying, 'Okay, everything's clear. ' They never actually admitted the things they were doing and how they completely ruined this country and caused, of course, this state of society. They never said that it was wrong. Basically, the President said they are legal, and we have to deal with them. I don't think so."

Petitions and demonstrations disagreeing with the Communist Party's role in politics have been taking place since 1989. Do you think this particular petition will be effective? If so, why?

"It's better not to give up. Another thing which I feel is that a lot of people really gave up, and they don't care. I'm against it and I think it is necessary to care about what the leaders, what the managers of this society limited, are doing because I am a part of this 'company.' They're supposed to be a service, but the government doesn't really work as a service. The government at this moment or during the last ten years more or less has worked like a monarchy."

There have been cases in the past when the Communist Party's votes were needed in Parliament. It's a fact that the Communist Party does have some power in Parliament. Can you comment on this?

"Sure, but what they are doing in Parliament is that they are voting only in a way which will bring profits for them. I don't think that they are doing anything else than making a profit. I've never thought that communism is anything about ideology. I think that it's basically about profit."