Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Jiří Rusnok, the new technocratic Czech PM

Ms Miroslava Němcová (center right ODS, the current speaker of the House), a decent conservative previously loyal to President Klaus, and a former cancer survivor and a hippie as a young lady, could become the first female Czechoslovak or Czech prime minister (101/200 of the lawmakers vowed to support her government).

The center-right coalition agreed that she was a good choice. On the other hand, the communist and socialist opposition hysterically insisted on early parliamentary elections.

However, the new Czech president, Miloš Zeman, demonstrated that he will be exerting a presidential influence that is probably gonna be (even) stronger than what we remember from the Klaus era.

He decided to name a technocratic government. So even the 46th prime minister of Czechoslovakia or Czechia will be male. The new prime minister – leading a government that will quickly replace the current acting government in resignation and that will continue as a government in resignation (because no parliamentary political party really supports Zeman's solution) – is the economist Mr Jiří Rusnok. The name is no surprise to me because Zeman has been suggesting that he preferred a technocratic government for several days and I have known that Rusnok is Zeman's most favorite economist since January – and perhaps for years.

It's my understanding that he is a very competent career economist – and he will also be the wittiest one among the otherwise extremely boring technocratic prime ministers such as Josef Tošovský, Jan Fischer, and (in decaying Czechoslovakia) Jan Stráský. Rusnok's career is very colorful and painting an image of an opportunist, however.

During communism, he hasn't made it to the Communist Party membership (although he was a "candidate for the membership") but he was already working as a member of the State Planning Commission. Between 1992 and 1998, he was a top economist working for the largest labor union in our country. In 1998, he joined the social democratic party and quickly became a deputy of the minister of labor and welfare.

In 2001, he became the finance minister in Miloš Zeman's own government and between 2002 and 2003 he was the minister of trade and industry in the much more left-wing Vladimír Špidla's government.

The year 2003 also marks the main year for his divorce with the social democracy. At the very beginning of the year, this lawmaker of the social democratic party openly endorsed right-wing Václav Klaus – the winner in the pipeline – for the president, dissing the official social democratic candidate whose name I had to look up again because I completely forgot about him, an unknown lawyer named Jaroslav Bureš. (In pretty much every round, Klaus participated but he always had different competitors who really couldn't compete with him so Klaus finally won despite the fact that the Parliament was on the other side of the political aisle at that time.)

Since 2005, he was important in the Association of Pension Funds and since 2006, he led the ING Pension Fund. In 2010, he finally completed his divorce with the social democratic party that he labeled as a populist party building on mass redistribution of the taxpayer money.

I completely disagree with the recipe that led to the political death of the outgoing PM Mr Petr Nečas but on the other hand, the smooth resolution leading to a respectable name such as Rusnok's name brings me some confidence that even coup-like surprises such as the cops in masks that occupy government buildings (and this description we know from the media is a bit of an exaggeration) aren't really excessively dangerous events for a sufficiently stabilized democracy.

At the same moment, I feel that the direct presidential elections gave the current president a stronger political backing and self-confidence. In some sense, the parliamentary democracy as we have known it for decades has been weakened in favor of a nearly presidential, U.S.-style democracy. I have mixed feelings on whether or not it is such a bad thing. I am afraid it may become a very bad thing once Zeman is replaced by a hardcore populist idiot sometime in the future.

The government won't win a confidence vote in the Parliament but let me tell you something: t would probably win mine especially because I know it's a better solution than one that is almost guaranteed to arise from the next early elections. It's likely that the Rusnok government will only construct the next state budget and will be replaced after September 2013 early elections.


  1. Czechs everywhere should be thanking their lucky stars they didn't get a female prime minister. Ours turned out to be a total disaaster and has just gotten the arse. THANK GOD!

  2. Well, not sure about that. The problem is that Zeman didn't respect election results and this silly move will lead to instability of our country. Funny thing is that just after he was elected he refused to communicate with LIDEM party, since they're not legitimate party as they didn't experience "the hell of elections". Now, few months later he appointed his non-elected commrad as a prime minister even though there's a majority in parliament which came from elections. Now it's likely that government will be composed of Zeman's commrades from SPOZ despite their failure in parliament elections.

    He was rightfully criticized for this by president Gauck - together with abolition of previous president, it kind of weakens the notion we live in the state where the law is respected. On the other hand, proletariat who elected him applauds. So good for Zeman, bad for CZ.

  3. Well, I am afraid that Zeman is the worst thing that happened to our politics since 89. I am hardcore rightwing voter, but even the SocDem majority in the Parliament I would consider the lesser evil compared to the such total disregard for the customary constitutional order. Zeman is smart in a tactical, short term manner. His populism annoys me, because I suspect to which goals he is aiming. He will reach his goals, but the long term damage will be very high.

  4. a typical Zeman voter :-)


    Leftwing/rightwing, Sparta/Slavia - I do not really care. Zeman is in his personality structure very similar to Vaclav Klaus, that is a basically immature narcissistic jerk addicted to power and attention. He will never cross the shadow of his own ego. Just like Klaus, the presidential function is a just a tool for his self-aggrandizement. He will never do what would be right for the country, but only for himself. Although they both have the same personality structure, Klaus war more subtle and probably more dangerous. Zeman is more brutish and more primitive, that means even the more stupid voters can see through his mask.