- Václav Klaus
name = Václav Klaus
office = President of the Czech Republic
order = 2nd
Mirek Topolánek(since Sep 2006)
7 March 2003
office2 = Chairman of the
Chamber of Deputies of the Czech Republic
17 July 1998
20 June 2002
office3 = Prime Minister of the Czech Republic
order3 = 1st
1 January 1993
17 December 1997
predecessor3 = office created
office4 = Prime Minister of the Czech Republic within Czechoslovakia
2 July 1992
31 December 1992
successor4 = office abolished
office5 = Minister of Finance of the Czech and Slovak Federal Republic
10 December 1989
2 July 1992
predecessor5 = Jan Stejskal
Ivan Kočárník(Czech Rep., in Klaus's govt)
birth_date = birth date and age|1941|06|19|df=y
Prague, Bohemia and Moravia
Civic Democratic Party
children = 2 sons
University of Economics, Prague
occupation = Economist
website = [http://www.klaus.cz www.klaus.cz]
Václav Klaus (pronounced|ˈvaːtslaf ˈklaʊ̯s; born
19 June 1941) is the second President of the Czech Republic(since 2003, reelected 2008) and a former Prime Minister of the Czech Republic(1992–1997). Economist by trade, he is co-founder of the Civic Democratic Party, the major Czech right-wingparty.cite web |url=http://www.hrad.cz/cms/en/prezident_cr/klaus.shtml |title=Curriculum Vitae of Vaclav Klaus |accessdate=2008-07-10 |date=2003-03-05 |publisher=Office of the President of the Republic] [cite web |url=http://www.fee.org/publications/notes/notes/TheThreats.asp |title=The Threats to Liberty in the 21st century |accessdate=2008-02-11 |last=Klaus |first=Václav |date=2006-05-06 |publisher= Foundation for Economic Education] Together with Václav Haveland his Social Democrat counterpart Miloš Zeman, he is recognised as one of the three most important Czech politicians of the 1990s and the last of them to remain active.fact|date=August 2008
Klaus grew up in the upper-middle class residential
Vinohradyneighborhood of Prague and graduated from the University of Economics, Praguein 1963; he also spent some time at universities in Italy(1966) and Cornell Universityin the United States(1969).
Prague Springhe published articles on economics in the pro-reform, non-communist magazine "Tvář" (The Face) and the leading weekly " Literární noviny". He then pursued a postgraduateacademic career at the (state) Institute of Economics of the Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences, which he left (by his account, being forced out for political reasons) in 1970. From 1971 to 1986, he held various positions at the Czechoslovak State Bank. In 1987 Klaus joined the reform-minded Prognostics Institute of the Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences.
In 1995, as Prime Minister, he applied for and was awarded a degree of
Professorof Finance from his alma mater, so he is sometimes addressed "Mr. Professor" by his sympathisers. As the president, Klaus occasionally taught a seminar course in economics at the University of Economics.
Since 1990, Václav Klaus has received nearly 50
honorary degrees and published over 20 books on various social, political, and economics subjects which are overwhelmingly collections of articles and speeches; the most recent of these are five yearbooks of his presidential activities. He was a member of the Czech PEN Club. Klaus is a member of the Mont Pelerin Society. He has published articles in the libertarian free-market " Cato Journal". On May 28, 2008, Klaus gave the keynote address at an annual dinner hosted by the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a free market advocacy group in Washington, D.C., and received its Julian L. SimonMemorial Award.
Václav Klaus is married to
Livia Klausová, a Slovakeconomist. During his Premiership she was appointed to the board of the state-controlled bank Česká spořitelna. They have two sons, Václav (a private secondary school headmaster) and Jan (economist), and five grandchildren.
Klaus is known to have had several extramarital affairs, each with a
flight attendant. The first, in 1991, was with Eva Svobodová. [http://women.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/women/relationships/article3708869.ece] In summer 2002 Klaus was photographed by a tabloid as having a "special relationship" with 24 year old economy student Klára Lohniská; this was treated by both the press and the public with remarkable sympathy. [ http://revue.idnes.cz/lidicky.asp?c=A040204_144941_rozhovory_mat cs icon] He spent the night after his second presidential inauguration (7 March 2008) with 25 year old Petra Bednářová. [ http://novinky.cz/clanek/135132-vaclav-klaus-nachytan-s-dalsi-blondynou.html cs icon]
Klaus the economist
His vocal enthusiasm for the
free marketeconomy and as exemplified by Friedrich Hayekand Milton Friedmanand practised by Margaret Thatcherand Ronald Reagan, together with his stated belief in Adam Smith's " Invisible Hand", soon became well-known and Klaus was the principal shaper of the Czechoslovak economic transformation. His critics later on pointed out that during his premiership he had neglected the importance of law (in particular battling corruption), largely ignored the enforcement of propertyrights on the stock market, and that his pet project, the voucher privatization, was poorly executed and didn't bring the economy responsible owners it needed. They claim that his record in government does not justify the picture of Klaus as a major free-market figure. His avowed aim of creating a nation which participated in the capitalist system as shareholders signally failed, with most of the privatisations of his tenure ending up in relatively few, and often opaque, hands.Fact|date=February 2008
Rise to Premiership
Václav Klaus entered politics during the
Velvet Revolutionin 1989. Coming to the Civic Forum(OF) with an expertise lacking among the dissidents, he became Czechoslovakia's Minister of Finance in the "government of national unity" on 10th December 1989. Václav Havelwrote in his 2006 memoirs that after the June 1990 free elections, OF was dissatisfied with Klaus's growing popularity and power and tried to shunt him off to the national bank; however he prevailed and kept the ministry. In October 1990, Klaus was elected the OF's chairmanby regional deputies despite the wish of the Prague intellectuals, prefiguring its split and founding of standard political parties. In April 1991 Klaus became the chairman of the Civic Democratic Party("Občanská demokratická strana", ODS), the strongest and most right-wingof them.
In June 1992, ODS won the elections in the Czech Republic with a reform program; but the winner in
Slovakiawas Vladimír Mečiar's nationalistic Movement for a Democratic Slovakia. It soon became apparent that Slovak demands for increased sovereigntywere incompatible with the limited "viable federation" supported by the Czechs; both leaders assumed the premiership in their respective polities and quickly agreed, without a referendum, on a smooth division of Czechoslovakiaand its assets under a caretaker federal government, later dubbed Velvet Divorce.
Klaus continued as Prime Minister after the 1996 election, but the ODS's win was much narrower and his government was plagued by instability, serious economic problems, and accusations of corruption. He was forced to resign [cite news |first=Jan |last=Richter |title=Václav Klaus: the experienced and predictable |url= http://www.radio.cz/en/article/100524 |work= |publisher=
Radio Prague|date=2008-02-07 |accessdate=2008-07-09] in November 1997 after a government crisis caused by an ODS funding scandal, an event quickly dubbed "Sarajevo Assassination" ("sarajevský atentát", in analogy with the one that started the First World War) by his sympathisers, because the calls for him to resign occurred during his visit of Sarajevo. He has consistently refused to accept responsibility for or discuss any of the corruption scandals which arose within his party and under his government.cite news |first=Marek |last=Švehla |coauthors=Jaroslav Spurný |title=Stále nevyřízený atentát |url= http://www.respekt.cz/clanek.php?fIDCLANKU=2333&fIDROCNIKU=2007 |work= Respekt|publisher= Respekt Publishing a. s|issn=1801-1446 |date=2007-11-23 |accessdate=2008-07-09 |language=Czech]
Czech President Václav Havel publicly referred to Klaus' economic policies as "gangster capitalism" and blamed the prime minister for perceived corruption surrounding his policy of voucher privatization and his cadre of close allies such as the dentist, politician, and entrepreneur
Miroslav Macekor StBhoncho Václav JunekFact|date=February 2008. In his 5 years as President, Klaus has only occasionally referred to corruption.Fact|date=February 2008
Klaus, stunned for a moment by his downfall, was encouraged by his nearest and quickly rallied forces to fight. At the mid-December IX. congress, he was confirmed as chairman by 227 votes of 312 delegates; the defeated faction left ODS and in early 1998 established a new party named Freedom Union ("Unie svobody", US) with president
Václav Havel's unconcealed sympathies.
ODS lost the June premature election to
Czech Social Democratic Party(ČSSD). Still, the results (unlike any following) would have allowed both of them to achieve a safe majority with smaller center parties. However US chairman Jan Rumlrefused to support ČSSD on principle, and there was too much distrust of "traitors" in ODS. To general surprise, Klaus struck an "opposition agreement" ("opoziční smlouva") with ČSSD chairman Miloš Zeman, his traditional foe though both also had much mutual respect: ODS tolerated Zeman's minority governmentin exchange for various concessions and posts, including the Speaker of Chamber of Deputies of the Czech Republicfor Klaus, with hints of possible prolongation after turnaround in future election. [cite journal |year=1998 |title=Constitution Watch: A country-by-country update on constitutional politics in Eastern Europe and the ex-USSR |journal=East European Constitutional Review |volume=7 |issue=3 |url=http://www.law.nyu.edu/eecr/vol7num3/constitutionwatch/czech.html |accessdate=2008-07-09 |publisher= New York University School of Lawand Central European University]
ODS went to the elections of June 2002 relying on Klaus's
mobilisation" against left-wing danger or his huge billboard at the former site of Stalin's Monument. But in a TV debate as well as at the polls he was again defeated by ČSSD's new leader Vladimír Špidla, who had explicitly refused the opposition agreement, which had become to be perceived as embodiment of stagnation, corruption and attempts to duopolise power despite the constitutional proportional representation. Špidla created a left-center coalition (which indeed led to political death of the hapless US). After long hesitation, and having suffered a further substantial loss in the October Senate elections, Klaus bowed to mounting pressure and didn't run for re-election at the December congress (which unanimously declared him honorary chairman). [ http://ods.cz/akce/kongres.php?No=13 icon cs] Against his wishes he was succeeded by Mirek Topolánek, [cite news |first=Eva |last=Petržílková |authorlink= |author= |coauthors= |title=Zprávy: Nástupcem Václava Klause v čele ODS se stal nečekaně Mirek Topolánek |url=http://www.radio.cz/cz/zpravy/35558#2 |publisher= Radio Prague|date=2002-12-15 |accessdate=2008-07-09 |language=Czech] with whom his relation remain strained.
Having lost two general elections in a row, Klaus' hold on the ODS appeared to become weaker, and he announced his intention to step down from the leadership and run for President succeeding
Václav Havel, who had been one of his greatest political opponents since the division of Czechoslovakia. This was taken by many to be a graceful way of retiring. However the governing coalition, buffeted especially by feuds within ČSSD, was unable to agree on a common candidate to oppose him.
Klaus was elected
President of the Czech Republicby secret ballot of the parliament on February 28, 2003after two failed elections earlier in the month, in the third round of the election (both chambers vote on two top candidates jointly). He won with a narrow majority of 142 votes out of 281, with, notably, support of the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moraviawhose parliament club he visited before the election. The Communists said that on the eve of the 2003 invasion of Iraqand Czech accession to the European Union, a President skeptical to both was a good balance to the government's — and his last counter-candidate's — "euro-fanaticism". [cite news |first=Petr |last=Holub |title=Filip: Dvakrát dáme hlasy Švejnarovi, potřetí nikomu |url=http://aktualne.centrum.cz/clanek.phtml?id=519971 |publisher=centrum holdings |date=2008-01-31 |accessdate=2008-07-09 |language=Czech]
Relationship with communists
Unlike Havel, Klaus modified his previously strident rhetoric following his election with the support of communist votes to say that he considers himself to be a "non-communist" but not an anti-communist, a label he claims to reject as a cheap and superficial posturing although he has warned against the traditional 'red scare' during two election campaigns against ČSSD. By some this is viewed as delivering part of his secret deal to secure the presidency.Fact|date=February 2008 As a president "representing the whole nation," he invited representatives of all parties including the Communists, who were not allowed to enter the Prague Castle throughout the 13 years of Havel's presidency. Nevertheless, in 2005 and 2006 Klaus repeatedly stated that he would refuse to appoint a cabinet which depended on communist support either directly or indirectly.
A contested issue is also his relation to
communismin the country's past: since 2003, Klaus has published articles praising "the grey zone" of the majority of ordinary people who passively endured the regime, while downplaying the importance of the small minority of dissidents like Havel because of their "haughtiness." This is held by some to part of his wish to denigrate parts of Czech history which he cannot claim a part of. A similar approach can be seen in his changing views of Masaryk.Fact|date=February 2008
Although Klaus used to criticize Havel for having used his power to
vetothe laws and promised restrain, he does so rather more frequently than him, usually to avoid introduction of new regulations he considers unnecessary or illiberal. [cite news |first=Jeffrey |last=White |title=Hard to get a law by Václav Klaus |url=http://www.praguepost.com/articles/2006/03/08/hard-to-get-a-law-by-vaclav-klaus.php |work=The Prague Post |date=2006-03-08 |accessdate=2008-07-09] Among the vetoed bills was also the registered partnershipact; Klaus believed that special laws for married couples were designed with a narrow goal that might not apply to gays, making the law unjustified.Fact|date=February 2008 In his public statement vetoing the bill he described it as being "dangerous" and representing militant "homosexualism." His veto of was overturned by the Parliament in March 2006, the Czech Republic becoming the first post-communist country to grant legal recognition to same-sex partnerships. He also vetoed the Anti-Discrimination Law passed by parliament in 2008, saying it's a dangerous threat to personal freedoms, and the bill implementing EU's Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicalspolicy due to its demands on private enterprises.
euroscepticism- perhaps being joined by his skepticism of the existence of anthropogenicclimate change - is a defining policy position of his presidency, and he includes criticisms of the "democratic deficit" and "centralization" of EU in many public statements.Fact|date=February 2008 Some European hosts viewed his statements as insulting and beyond proper diplomatic behavior - Latvia and Finland being two examples of thisFact|date=June 2007. He claimed that accession to the Union represented a significant reduction of Czech sovereignty and he chose not to give any recommendation before the 2003 accession referendum (77% voted yes).
Klaus' Eurosceptic activism has involved writing many articles and giving many speeches against any sharing of sovereignty with the EU. He assisted in the Czech publication of a work by the Irish Eurosceptic
Anthony Coughlanof left alignments and a record of campaigning against EU treaties. In 2005 Klaus called for the EU to be "scrapped" and replaced by a free-trade areato be called the "Organisation of European States." Klaus is occasionally chastised by journalists who want him to change his positions toward the EU, arguing that it should be more than a free trade zone. Although he sometimes concedes to this, his skepticism about the internal mechanisms of the EU is often very outspoken. For example, in 2005 he remarked to a group of visiting U.S. politicians that the EU was a "failed and bankrupt entity."
Klaus has reversed Havel's policy of avoiding many countries like
China. His first major visit was to Russiaand in 2006 he hosted Vladimir Putinin a style which was described by some pundits as "borderline-sycophancy" including using the Russian languageto converse with him. Fact|date=February 2008 Klaus received the 2007 Pushkin Medal for the promotion of Russian culture from Putin due to his use of Russian with Putin and with Russian diplomats. [cite news |author= ČTK|title=Czech president receives Russian Pushkin Medal |url= http://www.ceskenoviny.cz/news/index_view.php?id=288494 |date=2007-12-27 |accessdate =2008-07-09] [cite news |first=Daniela |last=Lazarová |title=News: President Klaus receives Pushkin Medal |url=http://www.radio.cz/en/news/99058#3 |publisher= Radio Prague|date=2007-12-27 |accessdate=2008-07-09]
Klaus has tried to avoid conflicts with Russia and cultivate friendly relationships with it. He disagrees with the sharp criticisms of the recent developments in Russia, claiming that the situation is better than expected from a country with minimal democratic traditionsFact|date=February 2008 and the necessity of a strong leader in Russia to organize political parties. [cite news |first=David |last=Burnett |title=10 Questions For Vaclav Klaus |url= http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1037613,00.html |work=Time |publisher=Time Inc. |date=2005-03-13 |accessdate=2008-07-09] After the August
2008 South Ossetia warbroke out, he criticised Georgia for causing it and distanced himself from general condemnation of Russia. [ Klaus: [http://klaus.cz/klaus2/asp/clanek.asp?id=POg9wiuJbfXB Zase už se hraje zástupná hra] cs icon]
Václav Klaus has many times voiced his disagreement with
Kosovo declaration of independence. During his visit to Slovakia in March 2008, Václav Klaus categorically rejected the argument that Kosovowas a special case and said that it set a precedent as the countries recognizing Kosovo opened a Pandora's boxin Europethat could have disastrous consequences, comparing it to the 1938 Munich treaty. [cite news |title=Kosovo threatens to cause split in Czech government |url= http://www.b92.net/eng/news/politics-article.php?yyyy=2008&mm=03&dd=25&nav_id=48785 |publisher= B92|date=2008-03-25 |accessdate=2008-07-09] [cite news |first=Zoltán |last=Dujisin |title=EUROPE: To Recognise Kosovo Or Not |url=http://ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=41593 |publisher= Inter Press Service|date=2008-03-14 |accessdate=2008-07-09] When Serbiarecalled its ambassador in protest of Czech government's recognition of Kosovo, he was invited to the Prague Castle for a friendly farewell.
The Czech Presidential election of 2008 differed from past ones in that the voting was on the record, rather than by
secret ballot. This was a precondition demanded by most of the Czech political parties after the last experience, but long opposed by Klaus' Civic Democratic Partycite news |first=Geoff |last=Larcom |title=Prague's politics a sight to see |url= http://blog.mlive.com/annarbornews/2008/02/pragues_politics_a_sight_to_se.html |work= Ann Arbor News|date=2008-02-14 |accessdate=2008-07-09] which had strengthened since 2003, already had the safe majority in the Senate even by itself and needed only to secure a few votes in the House for the third round.
Klaus' opponent was the former émigré,
naturalized United Statescitizen and University of Michigan economics professor Jan Švejnar.cite news |first=Karel |last=Janicek |title=U-M prof loses bid for president of Czech Republic |url= http://blog.mlive.com/annarbornews/2008/02/um_prof_loses_bid_for_presiden.html |publisher = Associated Press|date=2008-02-15 |accessdate=2008-07-09] He was nominated by Green Party as the pro-Europeanliberal candidate of change, gaining the support of the leading opposition Czech Social Democratic Party, a smaller part of KDU-ČSLand most independent Senators. The first ballot on February 8–9, 2008 resulted in no winner. Švejnar won the Chamber of Deputies, but Klaus led in the assembly as a whole and barely failed to achieve the requisite majority.
The second ballot on Friday
15 February 2008brought a new candidate — populist MEP Jana Bobošíková, nominated by the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia. However not drawing any wider support, she withdrew her candidacy before the election itself. The first and second rounds ended similarly to the previous weekend. However, Klaus consistently had 141 votes. Thus in the third round, where the only goal is to achieve a majority of all legislators present from both houses, Klaus barely won. Švejnar received 111 votes, the 29 Communists voting for neither. [cite news |title=Klaus re-elected Czech president |url= http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2008-02/16/content_7612647.htm |publisher= Xinhua News Agency|date=2008-02-15 |accessdate=2008-07-09]
Although the Presidency is not directly elected by the Czech
citizenry, several public opinion polls suggested a level of ambiguity. Opinion seemed to sway from narrowly supporting Švejnar in January [cite news |author= ČTK|title=Czechs slightly prefer Svejnar to Klaus - poll |url= http://www.ceskenoviny.cz/news/index_view.php?id=290639 |date=2008-01-11 |accessdate =2008-07-09] to a dead heat, [cite news |author=ČTK |title=Czechs divided on Klaus, Svejnar as future president - CVVM poll |url= http://www.ceskenoviny.cz/news/index_view.php?id=295382 |date=2008-02-06 |accessdate =2008-07-09] and finally to narrowly supporting the incumbent a day before the first ballot.
Klaus' re-election was partially the result of three Social Democrats breaking with their party, tipping the election towards Klaus. Both sides accused the other of using threats and significant financial inducements to influence the outcome. These allegations remain unproven. The election caused general disgust and rekindled old plans to switch to direct popular vote of the President which most parties have been promising without real effort; it has been discussed whether the Constitution change could allow Klaus to bypass the two-term limit.
Klaus' first term as President concluded on Friday
7 March 2008; he took oath for the second term on the same day so as not to create a president-less interregnumsince the Parliament could not otherwise come to a joint session before the following Tuesday. Thus he lost the day of overlap and his second term will end on 6 March 2013.
Dispute of global warming
Klaus is a vocal critic of the notion that any
global warmingis man-made (anthropogenic): "Global warming is a false myth and every serious person and scientist says so."cite news |first=Martin |last=Barillas |title=Czech president: Environmentalism is a religion |url= http://www.speroforum.com/site/article.asp?idCategory=33&idsub=128&id=8342 |work=Spero News |date=2007-03-10 |accessdate=2008-07-09] He has also criticized the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Changeas a group of politicized scientists with one-sided opinions and one-sided assignments. He has said that other top-level politicians do not expose their doubts about global warming because "a whip of political correctness strangles their voices." [ [http://news.monstersandcritics.com/europe/news/article_1261666.php Czech president derogates UN global-warming panel] , m&c News, 2007-02-09.]
In addition he says "Environmentalism should belong in the social sciences" along with other "isms" such as communism, feminism, and liberalism. Klaus said that "environmentalism is a religion" and, in an answer to the questions of the U.S. Congressmen, a "modern counterpart of communism" that seeks to change peoples' habits and economic systems.
In a June 2007 "
Financial Times" article, Klaus called ambitious environmentalism "the biggest threat to freedom, democracy, the market economyand prosperity", hinted that parts of the present political and scientific debate on the environment are suppressing freedom and democracy, and asked for readers opposing the term " scientific consensus", saying that "it is always achieved only by a loud minority, never by a silent majority". [ [http://www.ft.com/cms/s/9deb730a-19ca-11dc-99c5-000b5df10621.html Freedom, not climate, is at risk] by Vaclav Klaus, 2007-06-13] In an online Q&A session following the article he wrote "Environmentalism, not preservation of nature (and of environment), is a leftist ideology... Environmentalism is indeed a vehicle for bringing us socialist government at the global level. Again, my life in communism makes me oversensitive in this respect." [ [http://www.ft.com/klaus Global warming: truth or propaganda?] ] He reiterated these statements at a showing of Martin Durkin's " The Great Global Warming Swindle" organised by his think tank CEP in June 2007, becoming the only head of state to endorse the film. [ [http://zpravy.idnes.cz/domaci.asp?c=A070629_084140_domaci_mr Klaus uvedl film o podvodu s globálním oteplováním] , " Mladá fronta DNES" 29 June 2007 cs icon] In November 2007 BBC World's " Hardtalk" Klaus called the interviewer "absolutely arrogant" for claiming that a scientific consensus embracing the bulk of the world had been reached on climate change and said that he was "absolutely certain" that people would look back in 30 years and thank him. [ http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/hardtalk/7091092.stm]
At a September 2007 United Nations Climate Change Conference, Klaus spoke of his disbelief in global warming, calling for a second IPCC to be set up to produce competing reports, and for countries to be left alone to set their priorities and prepare their own plans for the problem. [cite web|url= http://www.un.org/webcast/climatechange/highlevel/2007/pdfs/czechrepublic-eng.pdf |author=Václav Klaus|title=Notes for the speech of the President of the Czech Republic at the UN Climate Change Conference|date=
24 September 2007|publisher=United Nations]
* [http://klaus.cz/klaus2/asp/default.asp?lang=EN&CatID=YJrRHRsP Official personal pages] – English section
* [http://www.hrad.cz/cms/en/prezident_cr/klaus.shtml Biography] and [http://www.hrad.cz/cms/en/prezident_cr/klaus_projevy.shtml selected speeches] at the President's office
Luboš Motl: [http://motls.blogspot.com/2007/02/vclav-klaus-about-ipcc-panel.html Klaus in an interview on Global Warming] with " Hospodářské noviny", a Czech economics daily; February 2007
* [http://www.cato.org/events/3598event.html Facing a Challenge of the Current Era: Environmentalism] , a
Cato Institutepolicy forum featuring Václav Klaus
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