Sunday, February 24, 2008

More reasons to be miserable.

Václav Klaus, quite possibly the most loathsome Czech public figure alive (and with some pretty stiff competition), has been re-elected president with the help of his supposed arch enemies, the communists. For a long time I’ve viewed these two camps not as diametrically opposite poles, but rather two sides of the same coin, who in practice understand one another very well. Klaus models himself on that most offensive of British swear words, Thatcher, and although I suppose that as twice-elected president following a lengthy stint as PM he will end his political career somewhat more successfully than she did, on paper at least, there are clouds hanging over him too – like Thatcher he faced a coup in his own party, unlike her he held on, though weakened, like Thatcher once she was no longer party leader he remains a divisive figure within his party and an embarrassment to many, who cannot resist the temptation to meddle and have the occasional snipe at his successor.

As for the commies, well I think 40 years of bloody misrule speaks for itself, particularly since these bastards, unlike such parties elsewhere in the region, have seen no reason to reform themselves and apologise for their crimes. Until recently they were headed by the son of an infamous torturer, under whom they received a disturbingly large section of the vote. These days they’re essentially the Millwall fans of Czech politics – “no one likes us, we don’t care” (but we’re going to make life as unpleasant as possible for everyone else just the same). Why though, did they help the Thatcherite Klaus back into office, just as they did five years ago? Because the president here is not elected by a popular vote, but by the Czech parliament, which means that the whole charade is not about democracy but rather dirty dealing, bribery, blackmail and pure spite. The commies didn’t get the promises they wanted from Klaus’s opponent, or from the parties supporting him, so they supported Klaus.

What advantages they’ll receive from that nasty old cunt I don’t know, but few here would put it past Klaus or his party to make dodgy deals with the red scum. And back to their similarities, there are many. Both camps are small-minded, mean-spirited slaves to dogma, either that of historical materialism or the alternative utopia of the free market justly rewarding hard work and initiative with deserved social standing. Both are openly contemptuous of “intellectuals” – presumably meaning those who think beyond the framework of their own given ideology, both are prone to ruthlessness and repressive tendencies. It would be tempting also to suggest that both are characterised by corruption and greed, but the same would be true of virtually anyone involved in Czech politics, so it loses meaning.

It is of some consolation that the office of president is mostly a representative function, and that Klaus is therefore not the force in Czech politics that he once was, although a Thatcher-style humiliation would still be a joy to see. And perhaps I should consider myself lucky to be living here in CZ and not over the border in Slovakia, where I’ve just spent the last week skiing and where I was told by the hotel manager, in all seriousness, “the Slovaks pray for a new Stalin”.

I’m not going to dare comment on the Kosovo situation, except for the fact that rightly or wrongly, I could not resist a smirk at seeing the US Embassy in Belgrade in flames. In a depressing world one has to find pleasure somehow.


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