I have enough experience to know that over 90% of the expected TRF readers have virtually no interest in some events in Czech politics – or anything else that has something to do with similar holes in Europe. ;-) And the apparent irrelevance of this story may look even worse. It's about some committee of the lower chamber of the Parliament. And to make things really bad ;-), the main hero of this blog post, Klaus Jr, considered the vote (and the topic of this blog post) "less important than a soccer match" today!
But you know, I just find this to be the country's most important story of the day (or a week or a month), for various reasons.
Just to be sure, over a week ago, the old-fashioned right-winger and outspoken man Václav Klaus Jr was expelled from ODS, a party founded by his father in 1991 that I have voted for 27 years before I became a non-voter in March 2019. The last excuse for the expulsion – a partisan procedure we most typically associate with the communist party after the 1968 Soviet-led occupation when the "reformers" had to be told good-bye – were two apt but overly tense Nazi era metaphors for some current events related to the EU.
Fine. So Klaus Jr is obviously the right man to lead the committee because he has a perfect understanding of the fact that the indoctrination, fake subjects, inclusion, alternative methods to teach everything, and other PC tendencies are the most important disease plaguing our education system right now. Klaus Jr has been the principal of the prestigious high school, PORG, and has lots of pedagogic experience with the kids as well as the management of teachers.
OK, so ODS – which has brutally shifted to the left and towards the enforcers of taboos and mindless worshipers of the EU – has expected that, much like in the case of the expulsions from the communist party, it must be a win-win situation for the party to expel the most popular politician who was viewed as a threat for the chairman Dr Petr Fiala.
Well, this general assumption that the expulsion – or more generally, any excessively original "brute force" move – has to be a win-win situation for the expeller seems to be wrong. You know, it has always worked for the communist party – which could have expelled, arrested, fired, or executed anybody it wanted because the communist party had the total control over the society and all enforcement forces. So it just couldn't lose in any way when it just expelled or fired or harassed anybody! Well, these sins have been accumulating and helped to speed up the 1989 fall of communism when it finally arrived.
Political scientist and ODS chairman Dr Fiala may have noticed this "subtle" difference between the present and the totalitarian communism. You know, unlike the communist party, ODS no longer has the total power. In fact, even if you include others that tend to treat the EU as a holy cow right now, they don't have the total power over the Czech politics. And, Dr Fiala, this has consequences. If you have assumed that those consequences can't exist, you're weak as a political scientist.
Fine. So ODS wanted to fire Klaus Jr, now an independent, from the education committee of the Parliament – which is actually considered one of the most important committees. The justification why ODS had the "right" to replace Klaus Jr with a new politician seemed simple: an agreement of all the political parties signed after the most recent Parliamentary election about the number of committee heads assigned to each party. If everyone considered that contract holy (and allowed ODS to redefine itself by expulsions), everyone would vote to fire Klaus and appoint any new candidate that ODS chooses.
There was at least one problem. The chairman is still voted by a secret ballot by the whole education committee. How do you make sure that they vote according some treaty? Well, because of the extra events that took place after the elections – like the expulsions, you know – there are some new subtleties that make the "enforcement" of the cartel harder. Two of the complications are called Klaus Jr and Lubomír Volný – both of them were expelled from their parties.
This really means that even rather legally, they're not bound by any cartel between the parties' clubs. Sometimes it's a true advantage to be expelled from a party (if you can remain a lawmaker), you're also free from the commitments that constrain the members of the party (or any parties). I am sure that Klaus Jr likes this advantage.
On top of that, there was a precedent that Fiala could have known about but he either forgot or "forgot": three years ago, ANO (the billionaire's populist party, the strongest party in the goverment and Parliament now) expelled a woman and demanded her removal from the budget committee, in a procedure that was basically the mirror image of the procedure today. And ODS along with others kept that woman! ANO – and Babiš – were probably upset.
If it were possible in this direction 3 years ago, it's obviously possible today, too. Today, it was the right time for a revenge! People and other parties don't quite forget your "somewhat minor" sins – at least not as quickly as in 3 years.
So the system simply voted to keep Klaus. Out of the 24 members, he got his own vote, Lubomír Volný's (expelled from SPD) vote, probably the vote of "The Redhead" Zuzana Majerová-Zahradníková (still ODS) who is spiritually close to enough to Klaus Jr and disagrees with the expulsion (but that wasn't enough to expel her, so far!), and probably all of the 10 members who belong to ANO. Well, it's also plausible that some folks from SPD, communists, and even others like a Pirate voted to keep Klaus.
The new candidate of ODS who was expected by the party to "get there through a mere formality" only got some 7 out of 24 votes, in both rounds. So the cartel just didn't work. I think it's good news that the cartel didn't work. Let me explain my reasons why it's good news.
1. First, as I mentioned, Klaus Jr is a competent warrior against PC at schools. I simply care about this substance – much more than I care about some old agreements between party clubs whose status seems fishy to me. On the other hand, his supposed replacement, the mayor of Pilsen Mr Martin Baxa, has been saying just empty clichés about education. I've watched him a bit more carefully for a few months and I am shocked how I could consider our Pilsner mayor (he is the mayor for the second time, after a hiatus) "my politician" for such a long time. He is a typical collector of chairs, a career-oriented generator of PC clichés who hasn't really ever stood for anything that I could remember (which was probably OK enough for Pilsen where things just work).
2. The excessive accumulation of chairs was a top criticism raised against Mr Baxa by those who vetoed him. Aside from being the mayor of Pilsen, he's still a representative in a council of the Pilsner Region, a lawmaker in the lower chamber of the Parliament, chairman of the subcommittee for culture, plus 15 extra positions, and wanted to be the chairman of its education committee. Every part of this accumulation would surely be good for his banking account. And he can say a few things about all these jobs, pretending that he's doing great work in all of them.
OK, I have always disliked people who are doing politics with this self-evident focus on their own down-to-Earth well-being. What shocks me is how long time has been needed for me to understand that Baxa – a guy who taught at the same high school as my grandfather (and some ex-classmates), but I sadly chose not to attend this best high school in Pilsen – is a typical example of these superficial politicians who accumulate chairs and salaries.
So it's right that the partisan cartel wasn't respected mindlessly – similar special problems (too many jobs) of the new candidate may also be a good enough reason to suppress the implementation of an old cartel.
3. More generally, partisan cartels aren't omnipresent and can't beat all other arguments and concerns. You know, it's in principle right to stick to agreements and treaties. But there are limits that must be recognized. If some treaty was just an ad hoc agreement for one moment, or if it implicitly assumed that the situation would always be similar in some basic respects etc., but it's no longer the case, then the treaty's domain of validity must be considered limited.
Lots of relevant things have happened. ODS joined the list of non-democratic parties that expel members for heresy (regardless of the agreement between the heresy and the values on which the party was originally built). The chairman of the committee was expelled from ODS and another member of the committee was expelled from another party (arguably because he looked like a potential threat and replacement of the chairman Tomio Okamura).
Well, at the moral level, it's really questionable whether the "leftover ODS" should inherit all the advantages of the "old" ODS that had also included Klaus Jr, while it could get rid of some "disadvantages" by throwing them at Klaus Jr. This just shouldn't happen mindlessly. It makes much more sense to say that while the "majority of ODS kept the brand", the morally meaningful description is that ODS has split into two parts that share the old pre-agreed chairs in the committee. Klaus still belonged to the "old ODS that was the subject of the agreements", so his later expulsion from the party just shouldn't change anything about the fact that he's good enough to guarantee the validity of the spirit of the agreement.
Such things simply may happen. If you use some new, excessively powerful weapon to solve a problem where weaker weapons had been the norm, it can turn against you simply because some people will find your usage of the new weapon to be dangerous – and that observation to be a more important consideration than some "softer" laws and agreements that you may rely upon but others may choose to ignore them. And if you have already used another, weaker weapon 3 years ago, others will feel no problem with using it now, too.
One simple reason why I find the vote a good news is that I probably believe that the parties' chairmen have too much power over individual lawmakers – and individual lawmakers should have more freedom over detailed, not essentially ideological, or personal decisions. For this reason, it just looks good to me when an ambitious plan of the cartel to control the committees fails to work. Such reliable cartels shouldn't really be possible. The system should allow the individual lawmakers to change their mind – and the outcome – or preserve it. Also, like most Czech voters (and this describes a widespread "populist" complaint that ANO has benefited from greatly), I just don't like a system with agreements that are powerful and capable of guaranteeing a lasting reliable income to politicians regardless of events – whose goal seems to be to divide the chairs and be happy.
In their support for Klaus Jr, ANO is probably motivated by the desire to get extra voters – the supporters of Klaus Jr who has a nontrivial fan club. Well, they can't get me – yet. But ANO has a small and unimportant plus from me for their preference of Klaus Jr over Baxa. But I guess at least roughly 10 such great surprises from ANO – and they would have to be diverse, not all about education – would be needed for me to seriously consider ANO.
The world isn't perfect and I will almost certainly have trouble with the chairman's communist past, links to the communist secret police, subsidy frauds, their excessively centralized vision of the society, plus other things that I have criticized. But at the end, I have no doubt that none of these important things is as important as the main political confrontation of the present, namely the confrontation between the cultural Marxism – often spreading from the EU – and the old-fashioned free and democratic orders. By the expulsion for the anti-EU heresies, ODS has crossed the threshold and became hard to vote for actively (even though I could still agree it's the best party – but I just think it's right to punish the leaders now).
Others who just supported Klaus Jr in the committee have gained some political capital in my eyes.
The weakened, new, much more pro-EU ODS has been humiliated by the result of the vote today. And things may get worse for ODS. In particular, I predict that Fiala's whining about the loss will further weaken their support from voters because he does look like a bureaucrat who does politics just to divide chairs and salaries from them – that's the normal citizen's (reasonable enough) way to interpret his obsession with that cartel and it's very bad if he, a political scientist, hasn't understood that this is how almost all voters look at it. Although we're at a serious risk that the only somewhat right-wing party in the Parliament will be the nationalist SPD with less than 10%, the old-fashioned division to the Left and Right just isn't the most important division today. If ANO or SPD or even KSČM were sufficiently consistently opposing the cultural Marxism, at least the first two of them could become a marginally acceptable de facto right-wing parties for me.
The world is such an imperfect place. Many choices are the choices of the lesser evil.