Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Sodding technology. I apologise for my failure so far to post any video clips on this blog, I’ve been experiencing technical difficulties. After seeking help from that all-round-good-egg, erm, the Impostume (any of that Humble Pie left over at your place mate?) I have been assured that the problem is essentially between youtube (apparently being updated) and blogger, in other words whilst it’s not my fault for being a fumbling technophobe, there’s more or less bugger all I can do for the moment.

Except of course to promise to rectify the situation when or if it becomes possible, and soldier on in the meantime without the light relief of videos, serving you up a gristly menu of concentrated rant.


I’ve enjoyed a good few smirks the last week or so reading about the Labour Party tearing strips off itself. Oh, to have been a fly on the wall at the reportedly explosive meeting between Blair and Brown – I wonder just how many times the word “cunt” was used. Is there anyone in the world who still believes that these two men don’t nurture nauseatingly sadistic, homicidal fantasies about one another? At least nice Mr Blair has now generously agreed to step aside within a year – no of course he wasn’t pushed, no undignified Thatcher-style exit for this man.

How thoroughly civilised in fact, compared with the departure here in CZ of PM Jiří Paroubek, a half-swaggering, half-waddling tank of a man, whose recent bullying conduct has helped elevate popular contempt for politics to new heights.

For those not in the know, I’ll try to provide a brief background. A general election was held here at the beginning of June. They can be quite tedious affairs, but this year’s campaign was spiced up when the Minister of Health and a particularly stupid political has-been from the opposition Civic Democratic Party had a good, old fashioned (and very public) fist fight. The damage done thereby to both main parties notwithstanding, the result of the election was that the 200 seats in the Czech version of the House of Commons were shared out thus: Civic Democrats (basically Tories) 81 seats, Paroubek’s Social Democrats 74 seats, Communists 26 seats, Christian Democrats 13 seats, Greens 6 seats. Paroubek was thus no longer the leader of the largest parliamentary party, but was evidently buggered if he was going to give up being PM without a fight. To hang onto power, his only option was to cosy up to the trusty political evergreens of the hard left.

The Communists here, unlike their counterparts in Hungary or Poland, for example, have not reformed themselves since the Velvet Revolution, and are essentially unrepentant about their illustrious history of torture, wrongful imprisonment, treason and murder. Understandably, from the revolution up to now, parties of all political hues have shrunk away from the prospect of bloodying their own hands by forming a government which relies on Communist support (although incumbent President Václav Klaus, arch Thatcherite and former Civic Democrat PM, who loves to portray himself as King Redscourge, made effective use of their parliamentary support in order to win himself his present office – another story). No such qualms however for Mr Paroubek, who, in his unrelenting and voracious struggle to hold on to power, has openly declared that he would quite happily enter into a coalition government with Martians (meanwhile his fellow Machiavelli of the soft left and great buddy in neighbouring Slovakia, Robert Fico, has himself just recently formed a government with the help of extreme nationalist parties). In a recent interview, when questioned on his power-hungry motives and wrecking tactics, Paroubek responded brusquely “I’m in politics, not the scouts”.

Doing the arithmetic then, the post-election situation here is stalemate – Social Democrats and Communists 100 seats, others 100 seats. All kinds of wrangling thus followed the election – involving not only conventional negotiations but also dodgy deals on both sides, including stories of MPs being bribed to defect with large sums of money – but the deadlock remained unbroken. Eventually, perhaps in the spirit of fair play, the task of forming a government was entrusted to Civic Democrat leader Mirek Topolánek, who in comparison with the thuggish Paroubek comes across as a rather nice-but-dim incompetent, a veritable John Major in the making – with the exception that John Major, let us not forget, actually held power for seven years, whereas Mr Topolánek will be lucky if his reign extends to seven weeks. He has now been officially crowned PM, but so far appears to be a lame-duck leader, unable to get the necessary parliamentary support. In addition he has other problems – stories of an affair with another MP plastered all over the press, whilst his wife, with whom he still lives, is standing as a candidate in the Senate elections – for another political party.

Upon the transfer of office Paroubek brashly claimed that he fully expected to be back in the job of PM within a few weeks, and he may yet be right, which in turn means that we may be looking at the first government since 1989 in which the Communists play a part. In the meantime he continues to chuck spanners in the works and snipe from the sidelines whilst waiting for Topolánek’s attempt to form a government to falter, and it’s difficult to believe he’s not enjoying it.

In the midst of all this farcical grubbiness, life here in CZ goes on. The country hasn’t sunk to its knees, the economy, whilst not booming, is relatively stable, and all this in a situation where we’ve been effectively without a government since the beginning of June.

Which makes you think – perhaps anarchy is closer than we ever realised.


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