Mirek Topolánek’s vacation should be his own private matter. It should be a time for him to take a break from all the political battles and the constant pressure of responsibility that he experiences as a public figure. It should be a break from the attention of Czech media.
But photos of Topolánek’s stay in Italy show that he was not on holiday, and therefore media have a duty to publish these photos. Topolánek – on yacht, wearing shorts – was actually working, surrounded by other hard-working, rich people. The fact that Topolánek’s “work” did little to help make politics more transparent is all the more reason why media should report on his vacation.
Politicians’ holidays on the yachts of rich businessmen, former ministers and lobbyists are one of the reasons why populism and politicians profiting from it are on the rise in central Europe. The source of contemporary populism, according to renowned political analyst Ivan Krastev, is that society is divided into two homogeneous and antagonistic groups: “the people” and “the corrupt elites”. Venezuela’s Chávez and Russia’s Putin are both profiting from this.
Can the Czech people see Topolánek’s holiday in Italy as anything else than a meeting of “the corrupt elites”? Hardly. The question is who in the Czech Republic will profit from this.