Written by: Philippe Riboton
SO WE NOW have a new president. It would seem logical to congratulate each other and begin looking forward to a new era – full of hope, with great expectations. The only problem is that nobody here really seems to be looking forward to anything. Nobody seems to have much hope, either. And quite naturally, nobody seems to have great expectations. Why should this be? Those familiar with local politics will point out that the president in the Czech political system doesn’t have much power. Those with a more cynical view will say that Prague Castle’s new tenant may do less harm to the country where he is now. Still, having an ultra-liberal politician elected with the votes of the communists begs some questions. Does Klaus’ appointment really summarize the ten-year history of Czech democracy? Can anyone imagine that this is the message the Czech Republic wants to send to the world? Certainly not. This election seems more like the epitome of a divorce between the Czech political world and Czech citizens. Let’s be honest – the Czech communist party cannot pretend to be more than it really is: a marginal representation of the “good old” generation, ready to make any shady deal as long as it can offer some juicy retirement to its dinosaurs; a kind of Viagra rejuvenation program for politicos. Nor can Klaus pretend he truly represents the voice of Czech society in the third millennium; he’s a figurehead of the past and his achievements speak for themselves. His vision for the national economy has left a black hole from tunneled banks and companies. His moral stance has allowed white-collar crooks to systematically siphon the country’s assets, which are now quietly sleeping in off-shore accounts. His dictatorial party management has killed every truly liberal initiative in its embryonic form, as well as every new representative ready to offer a fresh version of liberalism. What a legacy. It leaves us with at least one great expectation: that the next president will be elected directly by the people, leaving the second millennium behind for good – and all its dinosaurs with it.