21 August 2006

Topolankova To Topple Over Topolanek?

Pictured are new Czech PM Mirek Topolanek (left - current ODS leader) and Czech President Vaclav Klaus (officially ex-ODS leader) clinking glasses. Having followed the story of his ascent, Topolanek looks a bit like the man who has spent days climbing a mountain, only to meet the bloke that kitted him out at base camp sunning himself at the summit. Immediately after the June election, in which the ODS got the most seats “nice guy” Topolanek was widely seen as an electoral asset for his party. Since then the route to the top has been tortuous. But, the twist that people will remember is his reported adultery and its aftermath.

As has been widely reported in the British press, Pavla Topolankova (wronged wife of Mirek Topolankova) has taken the unique(?) step of putting herself forward for another party in a move her husband has described as "surprising" and "sweet revenge". The reaction from fellow politicians is revealing for students of the "Czech personality". More opprobium has been heaped on Mirek for his inability to control his women than for the actual adultery that is alleged.

The not unattractive third party in the love triangle is Lucie Talmonova. Ironically she is an ODS member since 1991 and Deputy since 1998. In hardly the most vehement of denials, Topolanek was reported as saying that he would not sue the tabloids over their controversial articles, which he labelled full of untruths, half-truths and lies. Lodging complaints would prevent him from concentrating on things he considers important, he said... and as for adultery in general, Topolanek said that like all men he would respect the advice of Miroslav Plzak, a renowned psychologist, that an unfaithful husband should deny adultery at any cost.

In an intriguing sub-text to the above is the background to the party that Topolankova is planning to represent. Politika 21 (i.e. 21st Century!) is headed by a controversial Euro-MP with a background in the Czech media - Jana Bobosikova. If you read the small print, you will notice her connections and allegiances to Vaclav Klaus - the current President seen congratulating Topolanek at the top of this post! Curiouser and curiouser. This story has legs!!!


Croydonian said...

Is Klaus still very much one of the good guys, or has he sold out / gone mainstream?

Praguetory said...

Err... That question is a bit loaded. As with most politicians who become presidents his public persona has mellowed of late, but from an international point of view, the Czechs definitely had worse candidates for President. Klaus is probably best described as the man pulling the strings - attach whatever connotations you like to that.

PETER M. said...

"As with most politicians who become presidents his public persona has mellowed of late..."

In general I agree with this statement but Mr Klaus remains one of the most remarkable top politicians in Europe and (I'm not afraid to say) the last Thatcherite still in power. He unshakeably believes in freedom, free trade and intergovernmental (i.e. not unified) EU and he tirelessly campaigns for it (see his publications and speeches on http://www.klaus.cz/). If nothing else his unforgettable achievement rests with founding Anglo-Saxon type Right-wing pro-Atlanticist political party, the ODS. I don't want to be pathetical, but President Klaus represents so much to us in the Central Europe like Maggie Thatcher to people in the West.

P.S. 1: Thank you for your comment on my blogsite! I do believe you that Aston Villa is the only team with good Tory credentials (although Iain Dale would definitely argue) but you must admit that you don't choose your beloved football club according to your political preferences. I know that Colchester is a LibDem nest but I simply love the U's! Blue and White forever! ;)

P.S. 2: I've known your site before and now I've also added link to you. Have a nice day!

Praguetory said...

Peter - I love your blogspot - especially like the stuff on Slovak politics. I've got a feeling that as I settle in Prague I will tend to comment more and more on Czech and Slovak politics so your contributions will be much appreciated. You're right aboout football clubs, but I tend to see non-English as fair game to persuade. ;-). Support for Villa in my family goes back a few generations.

PETER M. said...

It'll be my pleasure to join the debate. Count on me!

Czech political scene is very familiar to me as I have lots of friends in the Czech republic and a few of them are active in politics. From 2003 we organize an annual meeting of right-wing MPs & MEPs, analysts, journalists etc. with young people called The Czech and Slovak Right-wing Days. You are invited!

With regard to Sloavkia, the first regular parliamentary session starts in September, so the politicians enjoy off-season and there's not much to write about, maybe except the new tension between Slovaks and Hungarians caused by nationalists on both sides (which irritates me and I don't want to spoil my day by devoting my time to it) and some obscure and uncompetent proposals of our socialists government. But be sure that I will refer to it and that I will be rigorous :)

mrypg9 said...

What did Klaus do before 1989? Didn't he work for the (Communist) Government as an economic adviser?
The first ODS Government seemed to have the same effect on the Czech economy as Thatcher's policies did in the UK,didn't it?
And don't let's forget, she was ousted by fearful members of her own party.....
Cameron's reversal of her stance on Mandela and the ANC is interesting, though. Not before time, either.

mrypg9 said...

Incidentally, if you worked for the Communist Government, did you have to be a Communist?
Quite a few Communist politicians and functionaries in the former Soviet bloc 'saw the light', became 'right-wing-pro-Atlantacist' and msade a lot of money in the process.
Just wondering. Few politicians of any party these days seem to have firm principles.Those that do I respect, whatever the party label.
Chris Patten, Frank Field, Anne Widdicombe spring to mind.

Praguetory said...

Post 1989 was a time of transition in all Eastern European countries and as with any time where there is a radical change there will be many losers as well as winners. The "choice" was between short, sharp shock and gradual reform. Comparatively speaking Czech is seen as having attempted the overnight reform and I think did relatively well in pure GDP terms. Given that the Commies still poll 15% - 20% you could argue that the process did not work well for everyone. I think I need to read up on some of the books I read during my Eastern European Economies In Transition course at university to comment further.

Also, given that 99% of the economy was in the public sector under Communism, working for government doesn't make you a Communist. The likes of Klaus would argue they were playing the system/surviving. Cynics might argue otherwise.