Declaration and Democracy
A few months ago, I concluded my post-graduate thesis on Czechs and the Czech-German Declaration by saying that, by and large, it had been a disaster which didn't lead to reconciliation between two "nations" but rather led to a weakening of democracy in the Czech Republic. The events of the last few weeks have confirmed my findings.
I must state at the outset that I am no supporter of Sladek and his crew. Sladek is a repugnant fascist who spreads hate across his society. The other members at the top of his party are typically vile racists and anti-Semites. Altogether the Republican Party is a blot on the Czech political landscape.
Unfortunately, for various reasons including the establishment's continued willingness to lend the Republican Party a certain mystique through various actions and inactions, the Republican members of Parliament were democratically elected to represent their supporters in the Czech Republic. Whether the political establishment likes it or not, they have a right to be heard, and their parliamentary votes have a right to be counted.
Although I abhor almost everything else I have ever heard coming out of his mouth, I must defend Jan Vik in one thing: about the farce of Havel's re-election, Vik is right. There was no reason why Sladek shouldn't have been allowed to vote from prison. I believe some provision was even planned for this at one point. 99 to 98. Vik is right: Havel ought to be ashamed.
It does no good to say that none of this matters because Havel would have won in the next round of voting anyway. The point is that democracy was subverted. The establishment knew the result it wanted and fudged democratic standards to get it.
What is the outcome? Again, the establishment has given Sladek more authority and legitimacy than he had before. If the Republicans want to discredit Havel, the presidency and the whole polistopadovy vyvoj, all they have to do now is point to the numbers: 99 to 98 and our man kept in prison. (And then they released him conveniently after Havel's election!) Yes it is a simplistic argument, but it will win the Republicans votes among many of those who are dissatisfied with recent political developments.
This is not to denigrate the Czech voter as a sucker for simplistic arguments, but many people are fed up with recent developments and want change. Also, judging from the fact that a recent Focus poll found that a third of Czechs odmítá soužití s romskou menšinou a 14 procent se dokonce domnívá, že je potřeby Romy vyhostit ze země, Sladek seems to have a ready pool of support in the country.
Where does this connect to my reference to the Czech-German Declaration and its destablising effect on Czech democracy? Well, why was Sladek in prison in the first place? He was there as a result of anti-German comments he made during Kohl's visit to Prague last year for the signing of the Czech-German Declaration (and for contempt of court in relation to that case).
The Declaration had destablising effects that continue to be felt very strongly today. Among other things, the Declaration was a gift to Sladek. It brought him attention and it continues to bring him attention. Through his own acquittal, Sladek has gained the legitimacy of a persecuted politician. Through the farce of Havel's election, Republican criticism of the post-November development has gained a thread of truth. In fact, the state does indeed proceed illegally and Havel doesn't deserve to be President on the basis of that flawed election. Christmas gifts delivered to the Republicans one month late.
Sladek doesn't seem very clever to me. He probably would not have ever achieved as much as he has in the political world without all the help that the establishment gives him. If he was polite, he would thank Havel a spol. for their continued support.
Sladek and Vik have both said that they will take the matter of Havel's farcical election to the Ustavni soud. This will bring the Republicans further attention, especially if they win - as they rightfully should. Toppling Havel, even if only briefly, will not only destablise Czech democracy further, but will also put Sladek on the international stage. More gifts for the Republicans.
The source of all these troubles was the Czech-German Declaration, a flawed idea from the very beginning.