In it to win it. Dienstbier believes he can beat Klaus

Jakub Antoš and Pavel Vondra
4. 10. 2007 21:30
"Prague Castle should emanate positive energy"

Prague - Jiří Dienstbier is the only candidate for next year's presidential elections who is openly campaigning, aside from the incumbent Václav Klaus.

He has his campaign team in place and is actively meeting politicians who will be deciding in the end, since it is not the people who choose the head of state in the Czech Republic, but their elected representatives from both parliamentary chambers.

Difficult, but not impossible

And despite his inability to secure any support on the political party level so far, he remains optimistic.

"It will be difficult to win, but not impossible. After half a year of meeting and talking to people of various political convictions, MPs and senators, I do have a feeling this battle is worth fighting," Dienstbier said earlier this week in an on-line interview with the readers of Aktuálně.cz.

Jiří Dienstbier v redakci Aktuálně.cz
Jiří Dienstbier v redakci Aktuálně.cz | Foto: Ondřej Besperát

The only political party to formulate its position towards Mr. Dienstbier's candidacy was the Christian Democratic Union - Czech People's Party (KDU-ČSL), whose leader, Deputy Prime Minister Jiří Čunek, made it clear the former Minister of Foreign Affairs can not rely on their support.

"This is standard political shifting of forces and positions. There is still five months left, nothing has been decided yet," said Mr Dienstbier.

Nothing personal, but...

"I sincerely hope these people will show enough strategic thinking in the end to try accomplish the much needed change at the Prague Castle," he added in a thinly veiled attack on its present occupier, president Klaus.

He also stressed his criticism of president Klaus is not personal and he gave him credit for holding strong views and being ready to defend them even if they are not popular.

But he made it clear he did not share Klaus's negative views on European integration, civil society and attempts to solve the problems causing climate change. "The Castle should be emanating positive energy," he said.

Answering a question of one reader, whether he feels confident enought to step in Mr.Klaus's shoes and represent the country abroad as well as he did, the seasoned diplomat said: "It is for others to judge, but my foreign contacts are no worse then those of president Klaus".

A little bit of history

Part of the core group behind the Charter 77 dissident movement, Mr Dienstbier was thrust into the limelight after the Velvet Revolution in 1989, becoming the first post-communist foreign minister of Czechoslovakia.

Both he and Mr. Klaus, then Minister of Finance, were initially members of Civic Forum, an umbrella group of democratic forces, which was founded by Václav Havel and entered a power-sharing coalition government when the communists agreed to give up their absolute power.

It went on to win the first free elections in June 1990, but cracks started to appear soon after.

By the time next elections were called in 1992 Mr Klaus and Mr Dienstbier were heading their own parties, the former becoming a chairman of conservative Civic Democratic Party and the latter heading Civic Movement with more social democratic leanings.

 

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