>They’ve passed the Lisbon Treary – and they’ve got a NERV


The centre-right Topolánek government, recently toppled in a vote of no confidence the Czech Republic, and now replaced by caretaker government of technocrats and worthies at least goes out a bright(ish) note, having managed to get the Lisbon Treaty ratified by the Czech Senate. In the end, an unexpectedly large minority of the Civic Democrat (ODS) senators (12) backed the Treaty, while 20 against and it passed with the required 2/3 majority with one vote to spare (supported by 54 of the 79 legislators present). This was good news for supporters of the Treaty, but probably bad news for ODS underlining the split in the party over European issues that seems to dividie it down the middle. One prominent ODS deputy has already quit the party in protest. And, of course, we’re not out of the Treary ratification woods yet. President Klaus seems likely to find all kinds of pretexts not to sign it, not least the fact that he doesn’t agree with it.
The vote also highlighted divisions in the Czech Communist Party (KSČM): two of whose three senators voted against, while one voted for. However, for them Lisbon is more of pragmatic call than the cause celebre it is on the right.
One of the parting acts of the Topolánek government was also to give a big publicity plug to its lesser known legacies to Czech politics: the National Anti-Crisis Plan (NPP) and the National Economic Council (NERV) of economic experts it set up February to deal with the impact of the global recession on the CR. In form NERV is one of plethora of technocratic-cum-representative government advisory bodies covering everything from Roma integration to EU policy and the ageing population, but clearly greater things are expected of it. Along with the new caretaker government, it should afford a bit of political cover for whatever consensus the major parties can scrap together on managaing the economic crisis.

The campaign itself is, however, rather feeble even by Czech public information standards with the usual billboard cast of typical social types (Worker, Pensioner, Self-Employed Person etc) and the bathetic slogan: ‘We’ve got a solution’ (Máme řešení). I suppose that might be more naturally rendered into English as ‘We’re dealing with it’- and in a break with tradition the overall-clad plumber or carpenter depicted is a woman- but even then… It also has rather odd echos of the 2006 Communist election campaign slogan – KSČM campaigning is also known for its sparkle and pazazz – ‘We’re got a different different solution’ (Máme jiné rešení). The National Anti-Crisis Plan also has a website, which goes under the more snappy if very paternalistic moniker http://www.podrzimevas.cz/, which I guess translates as something like BackingYou.cz.

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