Ladislav Bátora (center) is just a pawn in the new battle between Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek (left) and President Václav Klaus (right)
Let’s not delude ourselves: The most powerful players in Czech political chess are kings President Václav Klaus and Minister of Finance Miroslav Kalousek. We can only guess how many moves ahead they may be planning, but we can assess the opening moves in the latest game. Kalousek from the center-right TOP 09 party senses that political chess master Klaus is behind seIf Kalousek wanted to launch an attack on Bátora’s boss, Education Minister Josef Dobeš, he had a thousand opportunities to do so beforeveral of the moves, though he may not be quite decided as to which team he will play for. … Maybe it will be a completely new team.
The new game has started in turbulent conditions. Polls indicate that the oldest and largest center-right party, the Civic Democrats (ODS), has rapidly lost support and the newcomer rival on the same side of the political spectrum TOP 09 — founded in 2009 and officially led by deputy prime minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Karel Scwarzenberg — is anticipating taking over the role as the true party of the right.
However, there are reportedly more fervently “conservative” projects in the making, sensing there is public demand for a political entity positioned further to the right. The daily Lidové noviny (LN) reported Wednesday that there is growing talk in the corridors of power about Klaus’ potential involvement in a new party.
“Will President Václav Klaus become the leader of a new political party in 2013? The question is being asked increasingly louder in political corridors. The president’s recent comments indicate this is the case,” LN wrote, referring not only to Klaus’ defense of the outspoken chief of personnel at the Ministry of Education and Sport, Ladislav Bátora.
On August 10, Bátora — the head of the ultra-conservative civic initiative D.O.S.T. (“Trust, Objectivity, Freedom and Tradition”) whose acronym translates as “enough” — told the daily Mladá fronta dnes (MfD), that he had had a long conversation with Klaus about the emergence of a new political party. “I would be glad to join a project that Mr. President is involved in,” he told the daily.
Fascist, racist, hick
Kalousek’s move. The server parlamentnilisty.cz has cited him as calling Bátora “an old fascist.” In the daily Právo, Kalousek again played the race card against Bátora. “Initially, I thought to myself that I would be restrained regarding Bátora. But one who uses the word ‘race’ in connection with any nationality or skin color is simply a racist,” the deputy leader of TOP 09 said.
However, as Czech Position pointed out recently referring to anthropological sources, the equation put forward by Kalousek is not valid. And would someone with his apparent knowledge not know? And was Kalousek’s sharp reaction to Bátora’s insulting reference to Karel Schwarzenberg as a “poor little old man” driven solely by a sense of duty to defend good morals?
The answer is hardly. If Kalousek wanted to launch an attack on Bátora’s official boss, Education Minister Josef Dobeš (Public There is undoubtedly potential for the emergence of a new neo-nationalist right-wing party in the Czech Republic.Affairs VV), he had a thousand opportunities to do so before Bátora posted the insults against Schwarzenberg on his Facebook page: from paying an extremely handsome wage to a pretty student assistant, through disastrous personnel choices which have resulted in the Czech education system forfeiting some EU funding, to the on-going problems with the financing of the ELI super laser, just to mention several of the numerous scandals Dobeš has managed to cause in a little over a year.
Kalousek is well acquainted with these scandals and surely knows much more than journalists who jumped for his bait in his comical little war against Bátora, Ladislav Jakl, Petr Hájek (both members of his Klaus’ presidential team) and MEP Jana Bobošíková — but in which Klaus is the real target.
There is undoubtedly potential for the emergence of a new neo-nationalist right-wing party in the Czech Republic. The growing skepticism and disillusion across Europe with the concept of multiculturalism, the riots in London and several years ago in Paris, the economic troubles, the wave of immigration to the Czech Republic - a new phenomenon in this country compared to Western Europe —, the disintegration of Christian or family morals are all concerns that weigh on the minds of many Czechs.
Such concerns could be translated into political capital by a political player who knows how to present these issues in an effective package. The provocateur Klaus is a master in this area. And Kalousek knows this all too well.