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Topolánek: Right wing must unite

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Outgoing PM Mirek Topolánek wants to form a broad alliance of right-leaning people. He is not ruling out a pre-election coalition with several smaller parties.

Along with outgoing Deputy PM Alexandr Vondra, Topolánek also wants to recruit Václav Havel. “I have been partly successful in recruiting a certain group of people. I am not aiming right now to enrich the membership base of the ODS. I am mainly talking about collaboration with varous institutions and groups,” said Topolánek in an interview with HN.

Where will we find you a year from now? Will you still be at [the prime minister’s seat] at the Straka Academy?
You know, this is one of the things I am not concerned about.

You are not concerned about that as an outgoing PM, as the leader of a political party or as Mirek Topolánek?
I am not concerned as Topolánek because I am guided by the credo that you shouldn’t be concerned until the concern comes to you. It has helped me overcome all sorts of adversities in life.

Klaus and Bém have extended my career
Have you considered that you might not lead the ODS into the next election?
After last year’s regional election – after that massacre – I was determined that I would end. But Pavel Bém and Václav Klaus really began treading dangerous ground and that riled me up, so that I was back to get back up again. And when I get back up, then I fight until the very end. After that I wasn’t prepared to leave.

Even after the collapse of the government?
I have no reason. The government didn’t fall because it was a bad government or because I was doing a bad job. It wasn’t my fault. The government collapsed because of irresponsible intrigues. If I wanted to be egotistical, I would even say that it happened because [the opposition] was envious how well the government was doing.

Maybe some people within the party would like to see me leave. But I am not agraid. I had fairly strong support at the party congress. But the main thing with me is personal motivation and enthusiasm. And I haven’t lost that yet.

Maybe you will persuade the ODS. But how do you want to persuade the voters to reelect that same old Topolánek who already failed twice?
That is not the same old Topolánek. I would still say that I’m a relatively fresh face in politics. All my colleagues have been in poltics significantly longer. And I don’t feel spent. On the contrary, I enjoy poltics. I enjoy dealing with situations that others aren’t able to handle.

If someone told you after losing the regional election that the ODS would have a chance to win a snap election in October 2009, you probably wouldn’t believe it.

The EU presidency helped you out. But the benefits from that are quickly disappering.
It wasn’t just the presidency.

It was a certain type of leadership that people saw in you during the presidency.
But that was there all elong. People just didn’t see it.

Ok, but even Niocholas Sarkozy immediately began losing support after the French presidency.
But here my enemies have helped me out. They haven’t let me finish the presidency, so that the support cannot wane after all. I see the situation that emerged as being quite positive. They did something decent people shouldn’t do.

I think that everyone in this country only began to truly understand how politics works after the fall of the government. It didn’t help Jiří Paroubek. In that sense, we don’t have to fear the same effect that Sarkozy had to deal with, after he tried to use the presidency to camouflage domestic problems, which then resurfaced.

I want to prevent a sharp left turn
You won the election in 2006 thanks to your promise to bring reforms and to wipe out corruption in state administration. You haven’t been able to achieve either one of these things. Based on what promise do you plan to win the election in the autumn?
I admit that we have not succeeded in wiping out corruption. But it will certainly remain a personal goal for me.

There is no doubt that the ODS cannot go into the election as conserved party without any ties to civic society and to people who, 20 years after the revolution, feel the real threat of the advent of a government led by the Social Democrats and Communists in the regions and a similar scenario could happen nation-wide. We will go into the election very openly, with a broad platform of freedom and readiness to fight for the last 20 years. So that we don’t lose that our position in Europe and the freedom we have enjoyed over the last 20 years.

Do you really fear that Jiří Paroubek will team up with the Communists, when he publicly stated that it is not possible because that party has not transformed?
But even he needs to distance himself from the Communists going into the election. I think that what happend in the regional governments is a big test for Czech society. Czechs are very tolerant in this respect. The Communists are starting to play the same role they did before World War II. But I think that communism isn’t just a label; it is a way of thinking.

The entire world and all of Europe is leaning left thanks to the economic crisis. So there must be some sort of an alternative to slow this process down. There must be someone who will halt the boundless populism that has run rampant in the Czech Republic.

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