Jana Bobošíková during her short presidential campaign in 2008
The head of the right-wing Czech political party Suverenita (Sovereignty), Jana Bobošíková, is talked about as one of the key figures in an expected realignment of the Czech political right.
A former advisor to Czech President Vacláv Klaus, who herself stood in the 2008 presidential elections, Bobošíková came to the public eye as a TV moderator and was a central figure in the Czech Television crisis of 2000/2001. Now a former Member of the European Parliament, she led Suverenita in the 2010 parliamentary elections with the party just failing to get over the 5.0 percent threshold necessary to win seats in the lower house (Chamber of Deputies).
Suverenita characterizes itself as the sole party protecting Czech interests and those of its citizens. Its platform — for example criticism of the EU and stress on individual and national rights — is virtually indistinguishable from the positions taken by the Czech head of state. The party is therefore seen as likely to play a key role as President Klaus prepares to position himself for a return to public life before his second presidential term expires in March 2013.
Bobošíková talks in this shortened interview about her long-time relations with the president and controversial Education Ministry official Ladislav Bátora who was at the center of a recent coalition life for his extremist views and comments, plans for her party and chances of a shake-up on the Czech political right.
Q: What are your near-term goals for the party?
A: Suverenita will of course take part in the regional elections in 2012. We will stand in all regions across the Czech Republic. Sometimes we will be in a coalition, sometimes alone: It will depend on the situation. At the moment, we are of course in preparations; we are talking with potential coalition partners. I can’t give out any names just now; the talks are not finished. Definitely, we will not be in a nationwide coalition. Things will be done on an ad hoc basis with decisions taken at Suverenita party organization regional meetings.
Q: Will you be putting yourself forward as a regional leader [‘hejtman’]?
A: I will not be presenting myself in the regional elections. I’m concentrating on elections to the lower house of parliament, which in all likelihood will be in three years.
Q: That is an optimistic view of things. Do you really think that the next elections will be in three years?
A: I would be really surprised if there were early elections.
‘Suverenita is often accused of populism but this is not true. We are simply not afraid to call things by their proper name.’
Q: Apart for the specific regional issues, what general message will you be giving voters?
A: Suverenita is often accused of populism, but this is not true. We are simply not afraid to call things by their proper name. I don’t want to praise Suverenita, but quite often we raise a lot of unpleasant issues and talk with the media more than we probably should.
People should understand that life is not black and white, that you can’t expect continuous economic growth, that peoples’ lives are up and down. It is not going to happen that one day Brussels or the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is going to come and help us. We should realize that the nearest helping hand is at the end of our own arm. That is at the heart of the solutions offered by Suverenita. We are not offering a bright and shining future.
Q: You say that you primarily want to explain to people. Will you therefore be going ahead with some contact campaign? Are you preparing some marketing tricks for voters?
A: Suverenita doesn’t take a marketing approach although we realize that in the short term this can pay off. We see politics as a civic, not a marketing, issue. That is more of a question for those who voted for parties that grew thanks to marketing and whether they regret that now.
Q: You are referring to Public Affairs (VV)?
A: I must say that I have not met one person who would admit to being among the 11 percent who voted for Public Affairs [in the 2010 lower house elections. Ed]. Suverenita will never be a party that seeks sponsors with the promise of future political power and all that implies. Neither I, nor my female colleagues, will appear before voters in bathing suit. [A reference to VV’s calendar featuring half-naked candidates] No, Suverenita continually expresses its views and it is an expression of civic opinions.
Q: Are you pleased that VV has lost public support? Wasn’t it due to VV that Suverenita failed last year to get enough votes in the lower house elections to get past the 5.0 percent mark?
A: I don’t want to gloat. I am not happy about the situation that the Czech Republic currently finds itself in. I don’t think that 20 years ago we would have expected to see the statistics we see now about decreasing Czech educational levels and the decline in the competitiveness of the Czech economy. We should have gone down a different path in order for the state administration to be structured in a different way and some political decisions not taken in the interest of some lobbyist or personal interest but in the interest of the Czech Republic.
Q: President Klaus said on Czech Television on Thursday that some Public Affairs figures have enriched Czech politics. He described Josef Dobeš as the best Education Minister of the past 20 years. Do you agree with the president?