The Špidla circus

Philippe Riboton

LOOKING BACK at last month’s European election results in the Czech Republic, one must admit that the Czech prime minister Vladimír Špidla achieved quite an outstanding performance. Nearly one of a lifetime. Not only did the Social Democratic party under his leadership hit rock bottom, allowing the Communist party to reach the 20% mark, but he managed – at least so far – to completely ignore the election results and remain in power as if nothing happened. His party represents a mere 10% of the Czech voters, but he continues to operate as if he still runs the show – you could say the word “circus” would be more appropriate. His flagship representatives provide the entertainment: when they are not caught sleeping in EU conferences in Brussels, they are clocked speeding on the Czech highways, so as not to be late for some wine tasting, for example. At first, one might be inclined to laugh at the performance, as it looks more like a clown’s antics than an acrobatic exercise, and it would be funny if it wasn’t so pathetic. Thank God, Mr Špidla still has with him the great Stanislav Gross, a man whose personal ambition has no limits. As a matter of fact, he is the one who makes the appointments to the top seat of state-owned companies; who cares if some of them have never managed any business whatsoever. He also dictates proceedings to the final privatizations, or determines which financial groups should win official tenders. No doubt this is all done only in the interest of the community. He has personally managed to redefine the role of Interior Minister, emulating the sort that has so far only been seen in some sunny Banana republics, or in underdeveloped African countries. In spite of the fanfare, two years down the road there is no more audience for this sad circus. The show is over, the lights are off, and it’s time they pack up and go.


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