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November 30, 2021



Commentary: What can the European elections improve? The Czech Republic's global image

16.5.2019 7:58
The European Union flag.
The European Union flag.

Whenever we get the chance to view the landscape of the Czech Republic from on high, most of the time we can be very enthusiastic about what we see - this land is beautiful, the most beautiful there is. When we look at our politicians, though, it's a much worse sight, especially when seen up close - how they behave, what their "political culture" is, and the contribution they make to the overall image of this society.

Currently the four highest constitutional officials representing us are Czech President Miloš Zeman, Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš, Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies Radek Vondráček, and President of the Senate Jaroslav Kubera. If we add the biggest loudmouth in the lower house to the list, Czech MP Tomio Okamura, and its biggest demagogue, Czech MP Vojtěch Filip, that completes the list of the most famous political mutants in our country.

If we were to compare what these six look like to what we see when we survey the physical landscape, they resemble what we find on the periphery of our big cities, those areas full of the dirty, gray labyrinths of warehouses and wholesalers. They resemble a forest destroyed by bark beetles or a storm, the Hradčany quarter of Prague after an aerial bombardment, the surface of a reservoir covered in oil... in other words, something simply repulsive.

We don't even see how ugly they all are anymore because one can become accustomed even to death itself, but we have reached the most extreme degree of indignity by choosing these politicians. They have many advocates who are willing to re-elect them.

To tell you the truth, I have no idea what could lead anybody to vote for the Association of Dissatisfied Citizens (ANO) movement, or the Civic Democratic Party (ODS), or the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia (KSČM), or the "Freedom and Direct Democracy" movement (SPD), or for Zeman. The latter is a sociopath afflicted by a pathological hatred that is doing explicit damage to the country.

Babiš is doing his best to circumvent democracy wherever he can - and he would be fine with avoiding it altogether if we allowed him to get away with it. Vondráček is following in the footsteps of the PM and the President and is a good flunky to them both.

Kubera is focused on his own "genius" - a typical ODS member who, instead of participating in discussion, displays his primitiveness for applause. Filip would love nothing more than to return to the days before November 1989 so he could take refuge beneath the protective wings of Russian airplanes.

And Okamura...? There's a joke going around right now that sums up his situation:  "I get why the Slovaks took their revenge on us by sending us Babiš - after all, we haven't always treated them well - but what in God's name did we ever do to the Japanese?"

If we were to ask these mutants how many people they have actually helped during their lifetimes, they wouldn't even understand the question, because for them success is to make as much money as possible and occupy a good position. In politics, though, we don't need careerists, but people who know how to - and who want to - aid others who are in need of assistance.

We need politicians who know how to free themselves from their own egos and privilege the common interest. Our strongest opportunity to achieve that change is during elections.

The upcoming European elections are at least as important as the elections to our national Parliament. Through these elections, we will send our envoys into European politics to create the image of our country - the image of us - in the world.

If we choose to be represented by loudmouths who are willing to climb the social ladder on the backs of those who suffer, by oligarchs who can't stand the smell of democracy, by psychopaths, by the rotten remains of patriarchy such as Kubera, by sociopaths, then we should not be surprised if the rest of the world looks upon us as a wax museum of 20th-century figures. However, during the elections to the European Parliament, we can vote for representatives who are better in terms of the culture of their politics, representatives who want to aid others and who do not just think about themselves.

What kind of an arrangement the European Union will become will depend on what kind of politicians we send there to form it! Do we have politicians of the kind required?

Certainly we do, because all politics reflects the kind of people who create it. If politics is controlled by those who are abominable, tarnished and undignified, then it will be abominable, tarnished and undignified.

Likewise, if politicians who are knowledgeable about democracy govern - as Václav Havel was, for example - then we have a chance of living here in a good mood even during those moments when we are involved with politics. I see many good representatives among the candidates running for the European Parliament.

Across the political spectrum we have examples such as former Culture Minister Daniel Herman and current MEPs Pavel Svoboda, Michaela Šojdrová, Jaromír Štětina and Pavel Telička. The Pirates have a candidate list of experts and young people full of energy...

Now all we have to do is be willing to get up and go to the polls. Will we?

František Kostlán, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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