>’A man who is lucky’: Czech minority right-wing government to survive after all
In exchange, the ‘constructive’ ex-Social Democrats do get something: a formal declaration specifying some policy concessions (the most concrete a promise to legislate for non-profit hospitals – a bulwark against privatization – and some vaguer promises about tax reform not raising the burden on any group and retaining the principle of targetted social benefits) and…. well, who knows? The Social Democrats are understandably outraged as the two ‘deserters’ or ‘defectors’, depending on your translation (přeběhlíci) – or, indeed as the right calls them ‘constructive deputies’ – were elected on a party list, rather than for individual merit and are crying corruption. There must indeed be some suspicion that the two have been personally bought off.
If the Civic Democrats have any nous, no cash or property will change hands, but a lucrative appointment for the two ex-Social Democrats will soon materialise. An alcoholic ODS deputy . Josef Kott, expelled from the party for being drunk in parliament – thank God the Czechs have some kind of standards, as the experience of picaresque Tory diarist Alan Clarke this kind of thing was traditionally excusable in the House of Commons – stepped down (allowing a replacement from the party’s electoral list) and was soon after appointed to a executive post in the state run General Health Insurance (VZP). No wonder the Czech health service is not in a good state.
If all this shows anything – apart from the fact that Czech politics is deadlocked, which we’ve known for a decade – it isthat Topolánek, despite being one of the most accident prone politicians in the Czech Republic, is a man who is lucky. Indeed, as the 2002 ODS congress was midway through electing a replacement for Klaus, his (ex-)wife Pavla rushed up to the podium and told delegates in an excruciating improvised contribution that they should back him precisely for this reason.