I guess the following has, by now, become something of a YouTube sensation, but since I’m no fan of Vaclav Klaus (and this pokes merciless fun at him), I’m going to take the chance and hope that a few of our readers haven’t yet seen the video of Klaus, the “thief”. It’s not worth explaining something that you can just watch, so take a look at how Klaus slyly pockets a ceremonial pen during a recent trip to Chile. Apparently, various clips of the press conference with his counterpart, Chilean President Sebastián Piñera, have now been viewed over 1 million times.

The resulting media frenzy is all in good fun, but has also somewhat overshadowed something more sinister on the domestic front. Over the past week the ruling coalition has been in crisis, sparked by media reports that Transport Minister Vit Barta, the de facto head of the smallest party, Veci verejne (Public Affairs), had been buying loyalty among some of his parties’ rebels through large cash payments (he says they were just loans). The daily Mlada fronta also published excerpts from old documents that seemed to suggest Barta had hashed a plan to enter politics with his party in order to enhance his business interests and obtain public contracts. He has now resigned, and Prime Minister Necas has appealed to Klaus to accept the resignation and to dismiss two other VV minister. However, Klaus has refused, saying:

“Before I can accept any resignation or resignations, or before I decide on calling off this or that minister, I will demand a plan on the project of the continued functioning of the Czech government.”

The problem here is that, according to the Constitution, Klaus can’t demand anything. He’s supposed to simply accept the prime minister’s decision and has no power to set conditions for his agreement.

It’s hardly the first time Klaus has forgotten that the Czech Republic isn’t a presidential republic.

Jeremy Druker

Jeremy Druker is the executive director and editor in chief of Transitions Online. Twitter: @JeremyDruker Email: jeremy.druker@tol.org

More Posts