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Jan Kalvoda: Career change and image makeover
Written by: Monika Mudranincová
Photo: Tomáš Kubeš
What happened to the politician with
the pipe and the Stalinesque mustache since the eruption of the
scandal involving his unauthorized use of a Doctor of Law title?
These days, he is satisfied with his law practice, but keeps a sharp
eye on politics.
ALMOST NO ONE would recognize him on the street. The mustache has
been replaced by a beard, and he's lost a few kilos. This chairman
of the Civic Democratic Alliance (ODA) from 1992 to 1996, former
government vice-chairman for legislation, and justice minister has
not appeared in the media for a long time, not even at the end of
last year, when he offered to pay off a part of ODA's debts, which
KDU-ČSL had pointed to as an obstacle to the further existence of
the Quad Coalition. "It was clear that the people's party was
using it as a weak pretext for breaking up the Quad Coalition, and
I wanted to make it a bit harder for them. It didn't work out. The
people's party then carried out a ritualistic public execution of
the coalition, thus damaging its prospects in the election,"
Kalvoda laments, adding that the public has given up on politicians,
because people suspect that their desire for change will remain
unrequited after the elections. "I don't even know whom I'll
vote for. The parties to the 'opposition agreement' are merely caricatures
of political groupings, and it's obvious that the politicians don't
put great store in the public trust," says this former politician
who falsely assumed a JUDr. title, and remedied his abuse by resigning
from all his positions in December 1996. He says he doesn't regret
it. "Politicians must clearly demonstrate what is right and
what isn't, resigning from high positions should be a matter of
course," Kalvoda opines, refusing to divulge whether or not
he has now earned the degree.
After hectic years in politics, when, as he says, politicians were
as famous as Karel Gott, he returned to his original profession
of counselor-at-law, and now handles commercial, civil, and criminal
cases in a law office in the Břevnov distric of Prague. He says
he doesn't rely on contacts with politicians when taking on clients,
and he is delighted to have shed his burdensome responsibilities
and to be living under less stress. This former politician, who
feels that the public saw him as a "nice odd-ball who talked
a lot but was incomprehensible," has no plans for returning
to the floodlights, but he admits that he keeps an eye on politics.
"I've got all the drawbacks of a politician on a pension -
I'd love to poke a stick in the bellies of these clownish politicians
and point out what they've done badly that we did well," he
says with a smile.