Monday, April 06, 2009

Jan Fischer: the new Czech bureaucratic government

The Czech politicians have agreed on the name of the new interim prime minister: it is Jan Fischer (*1951), the current "apolitical" boss of the Czech Statistical Office, appointed by ex-PM Špidla and (officially) President Klaus in 2003.

Both of his parents were mathematicians.

Well, your humble correspondent is surely not thrilled by this temporary solution - the "summer government" (a term hated by President Klaus) will reign from May to October when the early elections should take place.

While this solution was agreed upon by the four non-communist parties in the Parliament, Fischer was a member of the Czechoslovak Communist Party between 1980 and 1989 so it is really the only party that was left out that is probably going to secretly celebrate. ;-)

The communist membership was a typical approach of the career-driven opportunists in the 1980s, most of whom left the communist party during the Velvet Revolution. As we were taught at the basic school (before the fall of communism!) by our class's teacher, a communist can't be both ethical and intelligent. I may have forgotten the third adjective.

Moreover, although I don't know much about this particular guy, I feel that most of these people were not members of the communist party just for the sake of their careers. A communist way of thinking - e.g. some kind of obsession with regulation of everything from above - seems to be deeply rooted in the minds of most of them.

I don't know what is the causal relationship here. It might be that they have been infected by the disease while they were members; it might be that they joined the party because they did believe it, in some sense. Or some mixture of both influences could be relevant. At the same moment, I have to admit that the average communist party members were more interested in politics and more skillful than average citizens.

While I feel that such picks partially return our politics before 1989 - to the era of faceless politicians substituted from above who only had to be convenient for other faceless politicians - I guess that the politically correct media and similar circles may be happy about the choice.

The Czech Republic has already had a bureaucratic, "apolitical" government back in the early 1998, after the "Sarajevo assassination" of former prime minister Klaus. The prime minister at the time, Josef Tošovský, who was close to the Prague Castle led by Havel, was not a guy who would create deep emotions but he was just fine and I even wanted him to become the IMF boss or what was that when he was a candidate.

Despite his proximity to anti-communist Havel, Tošovský has also been a member of the communist party, between 1976 and 1989, and he was even accused of collaboration with the communist state secret agency. But he seemed (and seems) to be a pro-market guy.

Fischer has no future political ambitions and his main stated goal is to smoothly complete the so far successful Czech EU presidency. However, many politicians want the current government to stay up to the end of the presidency.

Update: The Castle and the two major parties seem to be happy with the new prime minister (who is supposed to fill the whole government with non-partisans) - so the agreement could be a step towards the grand coalition that is kind of favored by Václav Klaus. The president is happy with the new prime minister, too (despite his disapproval of apolitical governments in the past).

Because the new government is getting this "grand coalition" flavor, the smaller parties - Christian Democrats and Greens - are beginning to oppose the deal. But of course, the social democratic and civic democratic (grand coalition) votes would be more than enough to make this government work.


One more comment. Most European countries, including Czechia, plan to accept no detainees from Guantanamo.

When reality supersedes meaningless idealistic talk, the detainees are again what they have always been: dangerous thugs who were getting pretty much what virtually all of them deserved. It's not easy and cheap to deal with this material, especially if you risk bad publicity whenever you have to treat them stringently.

I think Europe should often naturally help America - and even its charming president - but this seems to be a purely internal issue of America. These are people who were arrested according to the U.S. rules, to serve the U.S. interests, and now they are being semi-liberated according to other U.S. rules, moods, and policies. The other countries know nearly nothing about these individuals and they're not ready. The help could look like a nice gesture but the consequences would be that the treatment would be much less well-informed and focused than what America is able to do.

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