Czech Republic: Survey shows most people want Bátora out
More than half of the inhabitants of the Czech Republic believe that the current director of human resources at the Czech Education Ministry, Ladislav Bátora, should leave his official post. Nevertheless, most of the population believe the response of the TOP 09 party, whose members are threatening to leave government altogether unless Bátora resigns, is unjustified. Only TOP 09 voters perceive it as justified, according to an exclusive survey performed by the SANEP company.
The majority of the public considers the statements Bátora made about TOP 09 party chair and Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg to have been offensive and outrageous, and the majority also views Bátora himself as a racist. However, the opinions of voters for the Public Affairs party (Věcí veřejné - Vv) are interesting: While they consider Bátora's statements outrageous, they do not perceive him to be a racist, as Czech Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek (TOP 09) has called him.
More than two-thirds of the public believe Czech PM Petr Nečas (ODS) should have taken the initiative in the current conflict between Bátora and TOP 09 and, should Czech Education Minister Josef Dobeš (VV) continue to provide Bátora with political cover, they believe the PM should insist Dobeš resign. Naturally, the promoters of VV do not agree with that view and are unequivocally identifying with Dobeš. Moreover, unlike the majority of public opinion, VV voters consider it correct that the Education Minister is defending his appointee despite a great deal of evidence that he should not be. However, like the majority of the public, VV voters believe state officials should not express their opinions about members of the government even though they enjoy freedom of speech. It is evident in the case of these voters that they are defending Minister Dobeš against the strong pressure being put on him by TOP 09, but they do not unanimously defend Bátora and his opinions.
Most of the public disagrees with TOP 09's clear-cut position conditioning its participation in cabinet sessions on Bátora's departure, and most people believe the party is using the issue as an excuse. More than half of the public perceive the dispute between Bátora and TOP 09 as petty; this may be fueling speculation that TOP 09 must have some other reason for boycotting the government than Bátora's statements. TOP 09's position could damage not just them, but all of the coalition parties. Most of the public are not satisfied with the Nečas cabinet (including many voters of the coalition parties) and blocking of cabinet business may intensify their negative perception of the cabinet as a whole.
The exclusive, rapid survey, conducted both through the internet and offline by the SANEP company, was performed on 19 August – 22 August 2011. The sample group was comprised of 5 614 respondents, a representative sample of inhabitants of the Czech Republic aged 18-69.
More than half of all respondents (56.7 %) from this representative sample of the population believe Bátora should immediately resign for making derogatory remarks about Schwarzenberg. Most promoters of the VV party (54.5 %), whose minister is managing the Education Ministry, are of the same opinion.
A total of 49.6 % of respondents perceive TOP 09's position on the Bátora issue as unjustified. TOP 09 chair Karel Schwarzenberg and Vice-Chair Miroslav Kalousek have conditioned their support of the existing government on Bátora's departure. The fact that this demand from TOP 09 has the nature of an ultimatum is not considered justified by 73.7 % of VV voters. On the other hand, most TOP O9 voters (52.5 %) support the demands and position of their party's leading representatives in this matter.
The statements published by Bátora on the Facebook social networking site about Schwarzenberg last week are considered to have been offensive and outrageous by 57.6 % of respondents. VV promoters share that opinion, and almost two-thirds of them (62.1 %) consider his remarks to have been inappropriate and impertinent. Bátora posted the following on Facebook about the TOP 09 chair: "Poor old thing, he's brazenly spluttering because there are at least three reasons I can't challenge him to a duel."
The opinion that a state official may not express his or her opinions about members of government, even though he or she enjoys freedom of speech, is shared by a total of 47.7 % respondents. More than half of the VV voters (53.5 %) share that opinion. From this it can be seen that VV voters do not actually identify with the position of Education Minister Josef Dobeš (VV), who has based his defense of Bátora on freedom of speech.
A total of 44.8 % of respondents agree with Miroslav Kalousek, who called Bátora a racist. This opinion has evidently been influenced by media reports on Bátora's political past, which have revealed his ties to the extreme right. A total of 44.5 % of VV voters perceive Ladislav Bátora as a racist.
Should Dobeš refuse to fire Bátora, 44.1 % of respondents believe Nečas should call on Dobeš to resign. However, most VV voters disagree with that opinion (75.2 %).
More than half of all respondents (58 %) believe Nečas should take steps in the Bátora affair so the government will continue to function during a time when essential reforms are up for approval. Of the VV voters, 59.5 % share that belief.
The Education Minister's defense of his controversial subordinate is not considered correct by 50.3 % of respondents. On the other hand, 44.5 % of VV voters fully agree with it.
However, more than half of all respondents (52.3 %) consider the problems prompted by Bátora's statements to be petty. Of VV voters, 79.3 % consider the sharp dissension between Bátora and TOP 09 to be a petty cause. On the other hand, 45 % of TOP 09 voters say the Bátora controversy is a dispute over principle. The fact that most respondents are convinced the entire Bátora affair is petty may be why the public believes that as far as TOP 09's behavior is concerned, this is an artificial problem.
Despite the prevailing antipathy against Bátora, 47.9 % of respondents agree with the opinion that the current position of TOP 09 on the Bátora affair is merely an artificial excuse. For example, the chair of the VV club in the lower house, Czech MP Vít Bárta, believes the Bátora controversy is helping Czech Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek postpone the taxing of gambling, which is supposed to start next year. More than two-thirds of VV promoters (66.3 %) agree with that assessment.
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