Friday's surprise announcement by the coalition parties that they would nominate the outgoing Prime Minister and Euro-enthusiast Vladimir Spidla as the Czech Republic's new European Commissioner has provoked mixed reactions in the Czech Republic.
A fresh survey carried out by the SC&C polling agency suggests that 60 percent of Czechs are against the outgoing Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla's replacing this country's current EU commissioner, Pavel Telicka. Only seventeen percent of those responding to the poll said it was the "right move".
The upcoming replacement will be the second sudden change at the post in just five months.
The Czech government's first candidate was Social Democrat MP Milos Kuzvart, who stunned many in February when he suddenly withdrew from the post. Mr Kuzvart explained his resignation by saying that he had not had the support of the foreign minister or the Czech embassy to the EU. At the time, however, most observers said that the real reason was that Mr Kuzvart realised he was not up to the job, partly because of his poor knowledge of English, the main working language in the EU. Mr Kuzvart had been pushed through by the Social Democrats and his resignation was seen as an embarrassment to the Czech Republic, and a personal failure for Mr Spidla, who then had to rush to name a new commissioner in less than a week to meet an EU deadline. The government opted for a diplomat with a decade of experience in EU affairs, Pavel Telicka — despite objections from the Christian Democrats due to Mr Telicka's membership in the Communist party before 1989.
It was just five months later that the governing coalition announced that Pavel Telicka too, would be replaced, a move that didn't sit too well with the Czech public, says Ivo Slosarcik of the European Policy Institute. The change was too sudden for people to get behind it and Pavel Telicka enjoyed a good reputation as an EU expert among the Czech public, he says. Another reason for the negative public reaction, says sociologist Jana Hamanova of the SC&C agency that carried out the public opinion poll, is that people don't like to see former officials being given lucrative posts just for political reasons. "No one has come out and said Pavel Telicka needs to be replaced because he is not a good commissioner," she told the newspaper Lidove Noviny. "And this sudden replacement is being perceived as a kind of golden handshake" not necessarily in the best interests of the Czech Republic.
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