February 10, 2013
The post was written by Ivan Bielik (email contact firstname.lastname@example.org).
This opinion had been written in the aftermath of Czech second round of presidential election which was held on 25th and 26th of January. There were two principal candidates for Czech presidential office – Miloš Zeman who was an influential politician in the heyday of independent Czech Republic of early 90’s and Karel Schwarzenberg, the prince who comes from affluent family.
What is remarkable in Czech case is the situation of the first-time possibility of direct vote of president. Up to this vote, the presidential election was controlled by parliament. Therefore, it was indirect vote when politicians as representatives of the people elected the president. Now it was up to citizens to elect their head of state.
In this article I would like to circumvent all judgements on these two candidates. In fact, Czech public space was overfilled by them which caused real clash of ideas in the public debate. Although I am Slovak citizen who has been living in Brno, Czech Republic for three and a half year, it will be morally inexcusable from my side to judge these contestants for presidential office. Instead I would like to present my general observation of Czech public debate over presidential campaign.
In fact, I was quite concerned about rhetoric of electoral campaign which turned out of the limitation of appropriate manner. There were splashes of nationalistic exaggerations (who is “real” Czech?), Ad hominem attacks and uncovering old scars of the past (German expulsion and Beneš decrees after WWII). All this leaves me worried about the state where contemporary Czech politics is taking place. The sad truth is that many of voters had decided according to such claims, which are both populist and popular.
Czechs, I hope, have had a memory of Václav Havel’s presidency which was above all characterised by moral appeal. The president should unite the nation, not to divide it. Sadly, after Havel’s presidency, there was no such figure in Czech politics that can follow the playwright’s example. Instead, following presidency of Václav Klaus tended to polarize society by similar references to nationalism, anti-EU approach and so-called “taboo” issues. In this view, Havel’s presidency looks like the rose among thorns.
Another interesting point has been revealed in public space. For the first time since I started living in Czech Republic I have indeed felt the hope of the change in Czech politics. There were many young people who put their trust into Mr. Schwarzenberg, because he is quite different from recent experience of Czech politicians. He is keen supporter of the EU, not afraid of admitting historical mistakes and has a strong appeal to Human Rights. It is not surprising that the prince won in three major cities – Prague, Brno and Plze?. He represented the change which many young people can believe in. But this hope failed after electoral results. It became clear that Mr. Schwarzenberg lost and Mr. Zeman was heading to Prague castle (official residence of Czech presidents). Mr. Zeman will likely continue the path which was set by Klaus. That means appeals to nationalism and real Czech identity. I wish I was mistaken.
To sum up, it is obvious on the case of this presidential election that people still listen to nationalistic claims and Ad hominem insults which are constantly popular within the society. Something is wrong with the country which boasts with persons like Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk, Franz Kafka, Ján Hus, Václav Havel or Milan Kundera (and more others). However, majority of population decided to continue with old-style politics represented by Klaus and Zeman. Therefore, this country is still immature from the 20th century history.
 For example he actively supported Pussy Riot release from jail.
 Mr. Klaus openly supported Mr. Zeman during electoral campaign.
Author : ipwg