Anti-corruption efforts receive blow as Deputy PM quits

Aktualne.cz
11. 5. 2011 16:36
Anti-corruption Deputy MP quits in what may be another round of Czech government crisis
Radek John announcing his resignation as Deputy PM
Radek John announcing his resignation as Deputy PM | Foto: ČTK

Prague - Radek John quit as the Deputy Prime Minister for the fight against corruption, stating that the situation in the government of Prime Minister Petr Nečas is "unsustainable". John allegedly did not feel any support from the PM for his anti-corruption struggle.

"I give my resignation to the prime minister so he can present it to Mr President, whom I would like to inform about the situation personally," said Radek John, who is also the chairman of Public Affairs, the center-right coalition's junior member.

Public Affairs have already asked for a cabinet meeting to discuss the situation and possibly rewrite the coalition treaty. John said he wants clear guarantees from his coalition partners that the fight against corruption will go on.

"Political dinosaurs"

The resignation is the latest twist not only in the ongoing Czech government drama, but also in the short but tumultuous history of Public Affairs, a party that received surprising electoral support in the 2010 legislative election, which enabled it to become a member of the three-party government.

Read more: Hopping on austerity bandwagon: 2010 in Czech politics
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Importantly, Public Affairs had based its electoral campaign on portraying itself as "fresh blood" in the rigid Czech politics dominated by "dinosaurs". The term "political dinosaur" quickly became a kind of a trademark of Public Affairs, and a symbol of what they fight against - old, inflexible, and corrupt political scene controlled by clientelist connections and private interest groups.

Because of the party's anti-corruption orientation, its key condition for its coalition partners was that the position of Interior Minister is occupied by their candidate. The party eventually achieved this, and Radek John became the head of the ministry.

However, the problem was that the party has never managed to successfully clean itself from close ties to ABL, an influential security agency. Vít Bárta, who is almost universally believed to be the "kingmaker" of Public Affairs, is also the founder of ABL. Although Bárta sold the company to his brother shortly after Public Affairs' electoral success, the party is still seen as linked to the private business - and the party's rivals, including its uneasy coalition partners, never mention to stress this.

For these reasons, and possibly also because of the political newbie's lack of experience, Public Affairs' cooperation with its coalition partners, ODS and TOP 09, has never been really smooth, and the party quickly earned reputation as the coalition's troublemaker.

The government first seriously shook at the end of 2010.

Read more: Czech government survives motion of no-confidence

Another crisis erupted a few months later, revolving precisely around Public Affairs' grip on the Interior Ministry. Also, for the first time, some Public Affairs' deputies left its parliamentary club.

Read more: Fitch watches if Czech govt crisis will affect reforms
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The crisis resulted in Vít Bárta resigning on his post of Transport Minister, and Radek John quitting as Interior Minister. John was eventually recompensed with a newly established position of Deputy PM responsible for coordinating the government's anti-corruption efforts.

Read more: After cabinet reshuffle, Czech gov crisis ends. For now

Now, Public Affairs are left without any portfolio linked to the anti-corruption fight - the party's core electoral promise that won them a place in the government.

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Zdroj: ČTK
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