Update: Thank God, due to the pressure, Babiš changed the plans and will nominate a different man, Mr Kněžínek, instead.Suddenly, the EU doesn't care at all that the rule of law is collapsing in Czechia
For two weeks, Czechia has had an incredibly incompetent minister of justice. Mrs Taťána Malá was originally a substitute who could meet Mr Babiš in Lelekovice, a village of 1900 people.
But she managed to flatter Mr Babiš more than everyone else so she was invited to the Stork Nest, Babiš's luxurious farm co-funded by subsidies from his subsidy fraud, and she became a visible lawmaker for Babiš's party. Two weeks ago, he picked this average girl from a small village as the minister of justice. Meanwhile, it turned out that she has plagiarized both of her diploma theses.
Her yesterday's defense of the plagiariasm was truly painful, especially if you realize that the woman was supposed to enjoy the respect from Czechia's judges and other lawyers. We learned that things are OK because the whole pages aren't identical to the pages in the thesis she copied. Moreover, plagiarism was OK in 2005, we were told. (Obviously, the trend is going in the opposite direction. A similar kind of misconduct is being increasingly tolerated.) Also, the theory about rabbits is a bunch of facts so it's obvious that two women write identical 10-line paragraphs about this theory, we were told! Wow.
On top of that, her work was incredibly original, trumping Einstein's special theory of relativity. To get her degree, she measured the weight gain of male and female rabbits in winter – before they're fed and afterwards – and she decided that female rabbits don't gain much weight in winters. I have serious doubts about this "law" but even if it were right, I would probably disagree with the idea that college degrees should be given for weighing rabbits after the winter feeding season.
Rabbits were her topic in Brno in 2006. Five years later, she got a degree related to the law at a weird private Pan-European University in Bratislava, Slovakia. That thesis was also largely plagiarized.
OK, around 4 pm on Monday, this stupid woman decided to be stubborn and she insisted she wouldn't resign. Everyone who has some decency was feeling the pain. A few hours later, the leadership of Babiš's ANO decided that this charade was unsustainable, indeed. They forced her to resign. Well, she still screamed and wanted to stay. She only agreed to leave the ministry once she was told that she would be added into the Smoked Meat of Kostelec if she didn't agree.
What happened soon afterwards could be used in dictionaries to define the "plot twist". Prime minister Babiš – who has already been charged and who is being officially prosecuted for the $2 million Stork Nest subsidy fraud – announced that he would become the temporary minister of justice, too. He, as the prime minister, will propose himself as the new justice minister during a visit of the Prague Castle today.
Needless to say, the justice minister has a huge influence on the prosecution and trials. He may discipline inconvenient judges, he may overload some courts, stop the career (and wage) growth of various judges, and many things like that. He should be jailed for 10 years but of course, as the minister of justice, it's rather likely that he may liberate himself in some way. The minister of justice Babiš may also ask the president for the abolition of the verdict against the fraudulent entrepreneur Babiš – which is technically a different procedure from a pardon, something that Zeman promised not to do in Babiš's case.
We always underestimate how much he's willing to cripple the political culture in Czechia. As far as I know, no one has predicted this plot twist. To make himself the new minister of justice, on top of being the prime minister, is just surreal. The conflict of interests is spectacular but in some literal morality-stripped interpretation of the laws and regulations, he can do that. But it's the first time in the history of the world when a country has a justice minister who is being prosecuted for a serious apolitical crime.
I didn't predict this move, either. But with hindsight, it makes sense. It seems likely to me that Babiš has been dreaming about his direct personal control over the court system, so the appointment of the indefensible useful idiot Mrs Taťána Malá and her removal could have been his (or his strategists') plan from the very beginning.
Czechia's prime minister and the freshly self-appointed minister of justice
After nine months in which he was trying to construct a permanent government, we're getting these "solutions". Mr Babiš is supposed to be the prime minister and the minister of justice. His social democratic partner Hamáček will have three ministries, including the chair of the minister of foreign affairs that was the topic of previous battles because the candidate Mr Poche was somewhat pro-migration.
You know, since October, virtually no other political party wanted to join a coalition with Babiš's ANO because Babiš's ANO insisted that Babiš had to be the prime minister – that's not a surprise because all the decisions by Babiš's ANO are really Babiš's personal decisions since he owns the whole gadget including all the puppets – while the other parties didn't want to have a prime minister who is wanted by the police.
Because the politics was stuck, various parties were encouraged by various pundits to be more tolerant. Perhaps, Babiš could be the prime minister, after all, if there are guarantees that he wouldn't influence the judicial system. Just try to appreciate how ludicrously these conditions sound now. Babiš will not only fail to isolate himself from any decisions about the courts. If the president says OK today, Babiš will be the boss of all the courts – so he will make all the important nationwide decisions about them.
We're clearly turning into a banana republic. A more patriotic quasi-synonym or euphemism is Kocourkov, a crazy village named after tomcats.
Adolf Hitler is often painted as the ultimate dictator who has accumulated too much power in his hands. But he's been a soft-spoken democrat in comparison with Andrej Babiš. In particular, he always had another man as the minister of justice. They were Franz Gürtner (1932-1941), Franz Schlegelberger (1941-1942, acting), and Otto Georg Thierack (1942-1945, April 30th).
Hitler's title "Führer" was just an overstated compliment. On the other hand, Babiš wants to be a real Führer. He's expected to be jailed for many years – so why wouldn't he conquer the whole court system in the whole country as well? Well, not even Turkey works like that. And I think that even the guys in Zimbabwe could have trouble to compete with us right now.
You may also see the deafening silence of the European Union. The European Union has been harassing Poland and Hungary although the countries did nothing wrong when it comes to preserving the rule of law and the parliamentary democracy. Disciplinary proceedings were getting started against Poland and Hungary, the countries were constantly denounced for the relatively mundane everyday political events that were backed by the appropriate majorities in the Parliaments etc.
Now, a Slovak criminal who is being prosecuted and awaits 10 years in prison is appointed the prime minister, doesn't earn any confidence for the government from the Parliament even nine months after the elections, but he starts to acquire additional ministries in his own hands, including a ministry responsible for the prosecution of his own criminal activities. The European Union is OK with that and so is the Czech average Joe. It's incredible. In particular, the European Union is proving that its harassment of Hungary and Poland had nothing whatever to do with the defense of freedom, democracy, checks and balances, and parliamentary procedures in these two countries. On the contrary, whenever the democratic or other Western habits are being abandoned in an EU member state, Brussels rejoices. They love the idea of Babiš the dictator because he is a crooked spineless jerk who will happily introduce lots of the EU garbage as long as he gets enough money to his pocket and is protected from the jail where he belongs.
And be sure about it: The EU keeps on sending billions in subsidies to Babiš's pocket. The folks in Brussels probably also love Babiš's and communists' crusade against the Catholic Church: these Czech left-wing forces are introducing a restitution tax. It means that a part (19%) of the assets that the communist regime stole from the churches and that was returned will be stolen again! The likes of the European Commission surely prefer that approach e.g. over Viktor Orbán's defense of Christian values in Hungary.
The parliamentary system has de facto broken once the first wealthy and aggressive Slovak criminal tried to take it over. President Zeman, widely seen as Babiš's ally, said the following two years ago:
If you want to get rid of any politician, including the president, there is just one democratic way… free elections, which in the given case will be in a year’s time. There is also a non-democratic way: a Kalashnikov.These wise words have never been as relevant as they are today, in the case of Andrej Babiš. The first solution has failed. The people who perform the second solution will deserve the Order of the White Lion of the First Class.