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Reason for hope: when Eurosceptics oppose a Lisbon referendum

by DoDo Sat Mar 21st, 2009 at 07:47:18 AM EST

The Czech Republic is a troublemaker in the EU on two prominent issues: it is one of the four countries where the ratification process wasn't finished, and its conservative government wants to host a missile defense radar base of the USA.

After votes were delayed on both, in Reasons for despair: Lisbon Missile Treaty, Colman asks, how and why the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty was made conditional on a military treaty with the US in the Czech Republic?

The answer I found is worth a separate diary. For, the current events are the result of a strategy by the opposition's leader, which could lead to a change on both issues: a rejection of the radar base agreement, and a passing of the Lisbon Treaty -- by referendum!

This is a complete reversal of the situation we are used to: Jiří Paroubek wants to break a Eurosceptic blocking minority in the Senate by going to the people, and top Eurosceptic Václav Klaus is not amused.



The players of the game

  • PM Mirek Topolánek, of the right-liberal main governing party ODS (Civic Democrats), is advocating the hosting of the radar base, but also, after a change of mind, he put the Lisbon Treaty on the agenda last year.
  • Slightly on the first issue but especially on the second, the PM is opposed by President Klaus, who still has many like-minded in the party he resigned from recently.
  • The leadership of the main opposition party ČSSD (Social Democrats), topped by once and possible future PM Jiří Paroubek, is a strong supporter of the Lisbon Treaty (though the lower ranks and voters less so), and got on the anti-radar-base bandwagon.
  • The smaller government parties and ODS splinters are generally pro-Lisbon and were dragged along reluctantly on the radar bases.
  • The smaller opposition party, the Communists, are mirrored: strongly opposed to the radar bases, but may be dragged along on Lisbon; they'd like a referendum on both issues.

As for the population at large:

Approval (blue) and disapproval (red) of the radar bases (source: CVVM):

Approval (dark/light green in the top right quadrant), disapproval (red/yellow in the bottom right quadrant) of the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty, as well as the undecided (grey on the left) (source: CVVM):

Now, to recap the events:


Radars & Lisbon 1st round: Senate - Chamber of Deputies 1:1

The upper house of the Czech Parliament, the Senate, approved the radar base treaties last November, but the vote in the lower house, the Chamber of Deputies, was held up for fear of failure.

Then, those in the ODS who shared Topolánek's mad Atlanticism, but also Klaus's mad Euroscepticism, created the link-up between the issues:

Czech Chamber unlikely to vote on Lisbon treaty in early February - ČeskéNoviny.cz [an article title that failed to be prophetic]:

A consent of at least part of the Civic Democrats is necessary for the Lisbon treaty to be ratified in both houses of parliament. However, ODS lawmakers point to the conclusion of their December national congress that recommended that the Czech-U.S. treaties on the stationing of a U.S. missile defence radar base on Czech soil should first be ratified.

Even so, on Lisbon, PM Topolánek clearly doesn't have a majority within his own party. The lower house approval last month:

Lower house says Yes to Lisbon but battle looms in Senate - 18-02-2009 15:48 UTC - Radio Prague

Czech MPs bowed to the inevitable on Wednesday morning and said Yes – many of them reluctantly – to Lisbon. 125 of the 197 MPs present voted in favour, just five votes more than the minimum needed for a constitutional majority. 61 MPs voted against the treaty, over half of them from the conservative Civic Democrats hostile to any further European integration.

Back then, the idea was:

So the Lisbon Treaty now goes to the Senate, although senators won’t begin discussing it until April.

However, apparently, Topolánek had a tricky strategy: bringing the Senate Lisbon vote forward, and delaying the risky Chamber of Deputies radar base vote.


Radars & Lisbon 2nd round: cancelled

This past week however, nothing went according to the PM's strategy. The opposition got a window of opportunity thanks to a domestic scandal:

Opposition launches new attempt to topple the government - 18-03-2009 15:28 UTC - Radio Prague

On Monday, Czech TV broadcast a recording of Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek’s right-hand man trying to convince a reporter to drop a story which could be damaging to a former opposition MP who now supports the coalition. Now the opposition has struck back, saying they would try and topple the government in a vote of no-confidence next week. The Social Democrat leader Jiří Paroubek [said]...

“The methods of Prime Minister Topolánek and his associate Mr Dalík have exceeded all tolerable limits of democratic society. We have witnessed further mafia practices of Mr Topolánek’s government and his collaborators. These have been an unacceptable intervention into the independence of the media and the independence of police investigation.”

(As a reminder: after the last general elections, there was a perfect stalemate in the Chamber of Deputies -- "resolved" by the defection of three ČSSD deputies for suspicious reasons.)

So, what did ČSSD do? They want a vote of no confidence next week, and went on attack already on the same day:

The coalition came under pressure in Parliament on Tuesday, with two of their MPs sick and two ministers away. The opposition took advantage of the situation and managed to attach the radar treaties with the US to the agenda – with good prospects of voting them down.

...in which case, Topolánek would have to face a much wider rebellion among his senators on Lisbon. So the government pulled the vote on the radar base treaties and put the Lisbon vote in limbo.


The referendum bet

Now, while the ČSSD's action seems opportunistic, I find that it apparently fits into a longer-term strategy. From the start of February, two weeks before the Chamber of Deputies Lisbon vote:

Czech opposition thinking of Lisbon referendum - press - ČeskéNoviny.cz

Prague - Jiri Paroubek, leader of the opposition Social Democrats (CSSD), has conceded that a referendum on the Lisbon treaty could be held in the Czech Republic, daily Mlada fronta Dnes (MfD) writes today.

Paroubek hopes that he could thus win over some rebels from the Civic Democratic Party (ODS, senior coalition government member) and with them topple its shaky government through a no confidence vote, MfD writes.

Paroubek is thinking of holding the referendum along with early elections, perhaps in the autumn, MfD writes.

He was thinking of it already back then. Now, how does the Lisbon calculation look from the ČSSD's viewpoint? Methinks it looks good: they even have two options.

From the failed prophecy article:

The CSSD, KDU-CSL and the Open Democracy senators' group are pushing for the ratification of the document. They have 42 votes in the 81-member upper house but at least 49 votes are necessary to ratify the treaty.

ODS has/had 35 senators, that's a blocking minority even if Communists (3) and Greens (1) could be convinced and ČSSD senators showed party discipline. However, splitting off pro-Lisbon ODS senators would be less of a risky game for a future PM Paroubek, than trying to win a vote against the large majority of his own senators for PM Topolánek. And if that fails?

"If I see that there is no other way toward the approval and ratification of the treaty, we will embark on it," Paroubek has told the paper.

Paroubek said he believed that the general public would approve the treaty in a referendum, while its critics are of the view that it might give them a chance of rejecting it, MfD writes.

However, at least one prominent opponent seems to agree with Paroubek...

The view of Eurosceptical Klaus was conveyed by Martin Erva, from the press department of the Presidential Office: "The vote takes place in the parliament, such speculations are useless."

Hahaha!

:: :: :: :: ::

So, to conclude: at the end of this mess, the Czech Republic might both approve Lisbon even against Klaus's machinations, and get rid of the radar bases!

Display:
The situation seems even more complex if you consider: over the weekend, the ČSSD holds a conference to renew its officers -- and Klaus was invided as speaker!... (and he accepted!)

I would be grateful if someone on the ground would add details/correct my eventual misinterpretations...

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sat Mar 21st, 2009 at 07:49:25 AM EST
The scandal itself that sent this week's events in motion is the attempted corruption of a journalist: an advisor of Topolánek offered money to the journalist if he pulls a damaging story, an offer he not only refused, but taped.

The damaging story in question concerns former ČSSD MP Petr Wolf. According to what I could find in Hungarian media, Wolf received millions of public grants for his business project and the preparation of a study, but his bookkeeping was faulty, and the study he "prepared" was lifted straight from web pages. When this came out, he jumped ship, and entered an agreement with the ODS guys: he'll support the government in exchange for burying the story and eventual lawsuits...

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sat Mar 21st, 2009 at 07:56:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The famous long-time coach of the Czech football national team, more recently coach of the Austrian national team, 69-year-old Karel Brückner, announced his final retirement from coaching.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sat Mar 21st, 2009 at 07:58:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I forgot: from other articles I read, it appeared to me that Paroubek may also consider a third option: Grand Coalition with a beheaded and possibly split ODS. Now that would be ugly... and I am really curious what our Czech-Republic-based readers think of such a possibility.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sat Mar 21st, 2009 at 08:02:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Bohuslav Sobotka, vice-chairman of CSSD described such possibility "It would hurt us." In an interview he also ruled out the possibility of coalition with KSCM (Communists). That is, his only option is a minority cabinet.
by jv (euro@junkie.cz) on Sat Mar 21st, 2009 at 12:41:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Good.

I was a bit sloppy in my talk about "ČSSD's options". I was more thinking of what it would do on the Lisbon Treaty.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Thu Mar 26th, 2009 at 05:12:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Your take on things is perfect. I'm not on the ground, but Radio Prague emails have been dropping in my inbox for years.

Czech politics is very likely a whole lot better than the local press makes it out to be. That being said, the local political atmosphere revolves around corruption scandals. Jiri Paroubek was toppled from the PM post after a story appeared that he got his flat in Prague through some kind of shady deal. MP's, police chiefs, ministers...the list of scandals is endless. This one took bribes, that one attempted to bribe a reporter, over there is someone whose father was a StB informer...it's never ending, and ordinary Czechs find it disgusting.

They found the transition from Warsaw Pact to New Europe personally painful, and that situation hasn't improved. And politicians get the blame for this as well.

Paroubek is smart, relatively clean, though the party suffers from scandal, and that held him back from pushing his EU-centric agenda further.

Klaus is remarkably scandal free and he succeeds through a mixture of workingman populism, blunt commonsense, and Czech pride. He's pithy. Like a Ronald Reagan in a city political scene.

For all that, the liberal idealism espoused by Vaclav Havel still provides the backstory much of the political direction many Czechs wish to take. The generation gap one finds elsewhere in politics doesn't exist in Czech - everyone wants to put the communist past behind them and get on with the business of joining the EU, in spite of Klaus. They fear it, though. Wages aren't good enough to live on (a small group of MP's tried to live for a year on the Czech basic wage, and none of them came even close), and decent jobs are hard to come by. An extraordinary number of young men and women are trying to, or toying with the idea of making it as a fashion model, or volunteering for military service - or both. There's simply nothing else available.

Overall the transition to an open market system hasn't been kind to ordinary Czechs, and this is what they are dealing with on a daily basis.

"It Can't Be Just About Us"
--Frank Schnittger, ETian Extraordinaire

by papicek (papi_cek_at_hotmail_dot_com) on Sat Mar 21st, 2009 at 08:57:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Regarding the fashion model/military service comment. Of all the young Czechs I've met who are struggling through university, only one wasn't majoring in business. The embrace of western market economics is total, both in Bohemia and Moravia.

"It Can't Be Just About Us"
--Frank Schnittger, ETian Extraordinaire
by papicek (papi_cek_at_hotmail_dot_com) on Sat Mar 21st, 2009 at 09:03:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Of all the young Czechs I've met who are struggling through university, only one wasn't majoring in business.

How representative is your sample? Given the strong opposition to Topolánek's healthcare reform plans, I'm not sure that embrace is near total.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sat Mar 21st, 2009 at 10:18:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's probably not representative at all. But I found it totally pervasive, so it's worth mentioning.

"It Can't Be Just About Us"
--Frank Schnittger, ETian Extraordinaire
by papicek (papi_cek_at_hotmail_dot_com) on Sat Mar 21st, 2009 at 11:30:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I forgot to stress that methinks a selection effect works here: the Czechs you meet seem to be the Czechs who feel like trying their luck in the USA, and given the associations to the USA, that will be just those people with a more pro-business and Cold War mentality.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Mar 26th, 2009 at 04:57:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Klaus is remarkably scandal free

Well, except for the privatisation-party-finance mega-scandal when he was PM, and certain stewardesses...

he succeeds through a mixture of workingman populism, blunt commonsense, and Czech pride.

And the teflon protection from his (now former) comrades. Does he have supporting media?

everyone wants to put the communist past behind them

You mean everyone but the Communists? ;-)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sat Mar 21st, 2009 at 10:12:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Klaus has some teflon, to be sure, but he is generally believed to be the one looking out for working people. And I give him credit for this because the transition from Warsaw Pact to EU wasn't easy on ordinary Czechs. Prices went up, but wages either dropped or remained stagnant. Czech still hasn't adopted the Euro, and it has been what, 5 years of postponements? It was supposed to be adopted early in 2004. Were the pain less on the ordinary Czech, they'd have been there long ago. The debate on Lisbon would have largely been on the merits of the proposal and the Czech communist party would be a distant memory.

I don't know about Klaus' relationships with the press. My take is from talking to the people I've met. They hate the Russians, believe their future lies with Western Europe, but what they really need is for things to be easier. They need it easier to make it through their days. This goes for everyone. Last year, doctors threatened a strike if their nationally mandated rates weren't raised, which of course means that the costs would have to be borne by everyone else.

The pie-chart above is misleading. People aren't (or weren't) nearly as opposed or uncertain about wholeheartedly participating in the EU. They just don't want it to take as huge a bite out of their already too thin wallets as the transition to the open market did.

An infusion of industry isn't going to do the trick either. For the most part, people wouldn't take the factory jobs, they're already post-industrial. On my local classical music radio station here in Boston, it seems every third piece broadcast is either from a Czech composer or performed by a Czech orchestra. Somewhere, outside of Prague or Brno, Czech needs another worldwide center of excellence like they already have in music. Something like a world class medical center in Parbudice, a major center and festival for music in Ostrava, or a state-of-the-art technology center in Ceske Budovice. Something besides music, pils, and the sex trade. And it should be outside of Prague and the Karlovy Vary - Usti nad Labem corner up there in the north west.

That's all it would take to put them over the top.

"It Can't Be Just About Us"
--Frank Schnittger, ETian Extraordinaire

by papicek (papi_cek_at_hotmail_dot_com) on Sat Mar 21st, 2009 at 11:26:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
he is generally believed to be the one looking out for working people.

Why? Because he fucks stewardesses, befriends Decan Ganley, gets into power in a parliamentary vote, and talks BS on too many issues? I'm sarcastic, but I am really curious how he manages to leave such an impression. Is it all about the Reagan trick? Or does he even profile himself in that colour against Topolánek?

And I give him credit for this because the transition from Warsaw Pact to EU wasn't easy on ordinary Czechs.

It is true that under Klaus, despite his Thatcherist rhetoric, the Czech Republic avoided shock therapy like Poland (first, and all others later). However, as I remember his coupon privatisation was a failure, and he only delayed economic problems that blew up at the time he was ousted.

On music centers: methinks VW/Škoda & suppliers still have more employees than orchestras. But diversification, that makes sense.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sat Mar 21st, 2009 at 05:08:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't know how people there feel about the stewardess thing, it never came up, though I doubt any of them would have gived a damn about it. He presents like a regular guy, not an elitist (like I say, he's pithy - "Russia has forgotten where her borders are again," was his reply to the war in Georgia), he's definitely "Czech-first, Europe later," though, don't be mistaken, the people I knew would likely tell me that it's just so he and his friends can line their pockets - like every other politician.

The people I knew weren't worker-workers, factoryline drones. Most of them were educated to some degree, cosmopolitan, urban types. None of them have much respect for their brand of political theater. The open marketer that Klaus is wasn't intending at that time to raise taxes and fees that the people I met couldn't afford and that was what tipped them in his favor.

On that music center, you're right about Skoda...it was just something that popped into my head - Czech is already a major center for music, maybe the center for classical music in the world these days. But Czech glass is something that occurred to me later. So scratch the music center idea, instead find those people with magic in their eye and hand and create a major artisan market with permanent open workshops in Ostrava or Brno or someplace. Something like the gun engraving industry is to Brescia, Italy. (I don't know if this is still true, but the luxury engraved shotgun industry in Brescia at one time generated more wealth than all of Greece.) Anything, as long as it's world-class and something everyone can take a measure of pride in. Making it world class creates a draw that hotels, restaurants, etc can feed off of.

"It Can't Be Just About Us"
--Frank Schnittger, ETian Extraordinaire

by papicek (papi_cek_at_hotmail_dot_com) on Sat Mar 21st, 2009 at 06:03:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't know how people there feel about the stewardess thing, it never came up, though I doubt any of them would have gived a damn about it.

Which may be okay -- but the reason I brought it up is the supposed scandal-free and close-to-the-people nature of Klaus. Someone whizzing around in private jets and seducing the employees may be what (the men among) common people dream of, but non-elitist it aint'.

he's pithy - "Russia has forgotten where her borders are again," was his reply to the war in Georgia

He also said,

CZECH REPUBLIC: Georgia Sets Off an Old Debate

Klaus argues that Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili's "fatal" actions against the separatist region of South Ossetia were to blame for the conflict.

Mountainous South Ossetia in Georgia is separated from North Ossetia in Russia by a border running high in the Caucasus. Georgians account for less than a third of the population of South Ossetia.

President Klaus vehemently rejected the parallel between 1968 and 2008, pointing out that Czechoslovakia did not act provocatively by attacking Subcarpathian Ruthenia 40 years ago, and that then Czechoslovak leader Alexander Dubcek's conduct bore no similarity to that of Saakashvili during recent events.

...so he can make sense, I submit. Even if his views on the Georgia subject are motivated by Kosovo, which are in turn motivated by his abominable views on the Sudetengerman issue (though his views and actions were even more abominable on the issue of "stateless" Roma).

Anything, as long as it's world-class

Well, there is beer. And movie studios.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Thu Mar 26th, 2009 at 05:10:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The open marketer that Klaus is wasn't intending at that time to raise taxes and fees that the people I met couldn't afford and that was what tipped them in his favor.

Taxes as issue -- at the time were they typically upper-middle-class?

On this issue, it's worth to quote the just released poll:

Centrum pro výzkum veřejného mínění - Sociologický ústav AV ČR, v.v.i.

According to February 2009 survey 8 % of citizens regard taxation on high-income earners as high, 18 % say it is adequate and 62 % think it is low. Taxation on average-income earners is considered to be high by 38 % of respondents, adequate by 49 % and low by 3 % of citizens. Taxation on low-income earners was supposed to be high by 68 %, adequate by 19 % and low by 3 %. 72 % of respondents think that tax rate should be higher for high-income earners than for low-income earners.

(Es everywhere, the right-wing aims to reduce tax progressivity.)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Thu Mar 26th, 2009 at 05:27:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
As I recall, the privatisation process pretty much tainted everyone. The most serious corruption these days revolves around the Russian mafia presence along with Israeli criminal enterprises in and around Prague. Think gambling, prostitution, gang wars. . . . Around the time I was there, but not when I was there, someone threw a hand grenade under the car of a casino owner. If I recall correctly, it was in one of the streets off of Vaclav namesti and it killed a tourist. It is believed that the would be assasin got away to Israel.

This kind of crime isn't a huge problem for them, but the organized crime and the corruption it brings undermines everything else. I'm told that Karlovy Vary is largely an enclave of wealthy Russians. This doesn't sit well with Czechs for all sorts of reasons.

"It Can't Be Just About Us"
--Frank Schnittger, ETian Extraordinaire

by papicek (papi_cek_at_hotmail_dot_com) on Sat Mar 21st, 2009 at 11:44:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
As I recall, the privatisation process pretty much tainted everyone.

Yep. So Klaus did not remain clean. It is more of a question how he could get so many people to forget his part, but not that of others.

I'm told that Karlovy Vary is largely an enclave of wealthy Russians.

By whom? It appears to me that the people you tend to meet are more on the right wing.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sat Mar 21st, 2009 at 04:52:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]

An extraordinary number of young men and women are trying to, or toying with the idea of making it as a fashion model, or volunteering for military service - or both. There's simply nothing else available.

I don't think I agree with the volunteering for military service. I know of only one class mate from high school who went to the Defense University (his father was in the military too).

As for the fashion modeling - yes, there is somewhat higher than normal number of people, both men and women, trying to get into the world of 'beautiful people'.But fashion? Somehow they tend to forget the clothes somewhere...

by jv (euro@junkie.cz) on Sat Mar 21st, 2009 at 01:08:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It seemed like everyone was modeling, including one guy I met who was starting out just as his military service was about to end.

A friend, I thik he was sous-chef at the Prague Hilton at the time, first mentioned the whole modelling thing. He thought Czechs were lazy. They aren't any lazier than anyone else, they had some education and weren't going to settle for work on a factory line.

A higher percentage were trying, or thinking of, starting a business than I'm used to seeing here in the US as well. I don't know how representative all these people are. Some knew each other, but most didn't.

There was one thing every single Czech I met agreed on: everyone thought my attempts to say "ř" were hilarious.

"It Can't Be Just About Us"
--Frank Schnittger, ETian Extraordinaire

by papicek (papi_cek_at_hotmail_dot_com) on Sat Mar 21st, 2009 at 02:13:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Anyways, concern about finding a decent job was a recurring theme. H_ was thinking of trying for a position with the EU bureaucracy after she graduated with her economics degree (she had fantastic language skills), T_ (whose brother was the soldier/model) bounced around from job to job until her English skills landed her a position in a construction firm and her husband landed a job as a truck driver, J_ was a reporter (for disgracefully low pay) and was living with a guy who bounced from job to job as bartender, cable installer, etc. T2_ was running her mother's clothing shop, ?_ (I can't remember her name now) was importing German lingerie and had opened a shop of her own. M_ opened up a tiny tabak/newsstand (basically a closet with a window where bought my daily Herald Tribune, bottle of water, and a pack of Marlboro Lights) in Prague. A_ is still a chef, just with another hotel (he knew almost everybody else). The Square restaurant in Malostranske namesti is gone and I don't know where it's chef, S_ has gotten to.

None of these people owned their own home, nor had any expectation of being able to in the foreseeable future. Now that I think back on it, the chefs were the only ones who seemed like they felt any real security (though who knows nowadays). I kept in touch with some of them for a few years and for the most part, they seem to be doing ok, though my impression is that they are living paycheck-to-paycheck.

Maybe it's just the circle of people I met. There's always the possibility that people are telling you what they think you want to hear, too. Anecdotal evidence is always suspect, but overwhelming impression from them is as I stated above; the EU was the direction they intended to take. They were all proud of being Czech though -- and of not being American, German, French, English, Italian or whatever. I got lots points for trying to learn the language and for mentioning the fact that I'd been to Slavin to pay my respects to Dvorak and Smetana. FWIW.

"It Can't Be Just About Us"
--Frank Schnittger, ETian Extraordinaire

by papicek (papi_cek_at_hotmail_dot_com) on Sat Mar 21st, 2009 at 04:13:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
None of these people owned their own home

Note that this is a general difference between Europe and the USA (or perhaps the world and the USA): houses are relatively higher-price (no wonder with the higher build-up and more expensive building materials for stone/brick homes), housing credits less easy to get (and I didn't use "mortgage" because the legal terms may be very different), and renting (as well as apartment blocks) is much more widespread here.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Thu Mar 26th, 2009 at 04:54:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This is beginning to make Irish politics look good....and as for EU politics, a distinct improvement.  The EU may appear as an inefficient bureaucracy at times, but even that is an improvement on the petty corruption and demagogic nationalism that passes for politics in many of our individual polities.

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sat Mar 21st, 2009 at 08:08:09 AM EST
This is beginning to make Irish politics look good....

Heh. I should introduce you more to Slovakian, Hungarian, Romanian, Bulgarian, Greek, Italian... politics :-)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sat Mar 21st, 2009 at 08:14:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
  1. there must be a word missing in the line about Klaus in the list of players (slightly to "the right of")?

  2. could you use the Czech words rather than (or: in addition to) colors to describe the different items in your poll graphs - I cannot tell the colors apart, being color blind.


In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sat Mar 21st, 2009 at 09:08:05 AM EST
2) Sorry. But it's easy to figure out: the "ne-" should be the indication. "Souhlas/nesouhlas" (first graph) is agreement/disagreement, "měl/neměl" is should/shouldn't ratify (both qualified as certainly/rather); "neví" is don't know.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sat Mar 21st, 2009 at 09:42:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
1) Heh... amended to make it clearer :-)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sat Mar 21st, 2009 at 09:45:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
souhlas = in favor of
nesouhlas = opposed to

9%  - rozhodne mel = firmly in favor of
24% - spise mei = somewhat in favor of
13% - spise nemel = somewhat opposed
6%  - rozhodne nemel = firmly opposed
48% - nevi = undecided

"It Can't Be Just About Us"
--Frank Schnittger, ETian Extraordinaire

by papicek (papi_cek_at_hotmail_dot_com) on Sat Mar 21st, 2009 at 09:46:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
48% - nevi = undecided

I had trouble figuring out that one: Google Translate translates it as "knows"...

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sat Mar 21st, 2009 at 10:14:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
try slovnik.cz, or Seznam slovnik is better, but harder to use.

"It Can't Be Just About Us"
--Frank Schnittger, ETian Extraordinaire
by papicek (papi_cek_at_hotmail_dot_com) on Sat Mar 21st, 2009 at 10:34:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
well it is "know." Third person singular of the verb vedet (I should reinstall the CZ keyboard but I'm too lazy.) "Nevim" (I don't know) was right up there with my favorite CZ sentence: "Prosim, dam si jedno pivo," which I quickly practiced to perfection.

"It Can't Be Just About Us"
--Frank Schnittger, ETian Extraordinaire
by papicek (papi_cek_at_hotmail_dot_com) on Sat Mar 21st, 2009 at 02:22:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Things are changing pretty quickly in Czech politics this weekend and its looking more and more likely that the Topolanek government will fall next week.  

www.novinky.cz has stories developing about the three key political parties.

  1. The Socialists.  Paroubek was re-elected as head of the party in their 30th congress with 74% of the vote.  President Klaus was the first sitting Czech president to address a Socialist party convention since the Velvet Revolution.  He recognized that the Socialists who are one of the oldest Parties in the CZ and one of the oldest Socialist parties in Europe (131 years) opposed him in the last vote for president and emphasized that their opposition comes part and parcel with democratic norms.  He also cautioned against abusing the current economic crisis and the fears of Czech citizens for political ends.  Paroubek called for a "General Attack" on Topolanek's govenment next week.

  2. The Greens.  Their support is crucial for Topolanek's government to stay in power.  Regional councils (Pardubice, Southwest Bohemia) are calling the party leader Martin Bursik's tactics in ousting certain members "Undemocratic".  When interviewed on TV late last week about the coming vote of confidence Bursik seemed unsure of his political future.

  3. ODS.  This morning, Vlastimil Tlusty, former Finance Minister under Topolanek, said in an interview that the current government has failed to keep any of its promises and that he and two other parliamentarians would vote against the government.  Tlusty Wants to Get ODS Rebels to Join in the Attempt to Take Down the Governnment

Unfortunately I'm very busy with work even on Sunday and have little time to follow the news here closely day in and day out.  The snake's nest of endless corruption scandals long ago turned me off of following politics in this country.

I feel inclined to add a small bit concerning the overall political atmosphere.  I work in an IT firm and while people avoid speaking about local politics my impression is that among my Czech colleagues opinions tend to be split between CSSD, ODS and the smaller parties KDU/CSL, Greens.  Most of my colleagues from outside of Prague tend to be against the ODS while most Praguers support them.  On the other hand in my local pub I even meet young working class people - waiters, delivery truck drivers - who make no bones about supporting the communists.  

In the past, most papers, excluding Pravo which proclaims its "independence", were bought up by subsidiaries of western multinationals and tended to favor the center right parties.  Private and state run television as well have tended to give cover to Klaus and the ODS.  Nine years ago the largest demonstrations since '89 errupted on Wenceslas Square over Klaus's attempts to install his cronies (Bobosikova et al.) as heads of the state television stations.  More complete info at Wikipedia Czech TV Crisis.  

by kagaka (karel.k.rehor [zav] email [tecka] cz) on Sun Mar 22nd, 2009 at 09:01:33 AM EST
I thought Klaus was liked by working people. Guess I was wrong on that, but how likely do you think Topolanek's fall to be? I thought I read that Zubova (Green, I think) was against a change in leadership during this financial crisis.

"It Can't Be Just About Us"
--Frank Schnittger, ETian Extraordinaire
by papicek (papi_cek_at_hotmail_dot_com) on Sun Mar 22nd, 2009 at 07:42:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Klaus is liked -- now. Because people are forgetful.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Mar 26th, 2009 at 04:49:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
On Klaus being liked -- again from CVVM, trust in the institution of the President is steady at 65%, while his trust in Klaus himself was 63% in February... surpassed only by ombudsman Otakar Motejl.

(Topolánek's approval was 30%, Paroubek's 40%.)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Thu Mar 26th, 2009 at 05:37:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
For the record, that happened already, see the continuation of the story in Czech Government Topples & EU Loses its President by whataboutbob.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Mar 26th, 2009 at 05:22:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]


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