Normalization 2012

In the spring of 1990 the Civic Forum had already been ruined as well as the November “revolution”. However, we did not yet know it. Those of us who suspected it were not willing to admit it. However, a sprinter can never undo a mistake he made at the start. The mismanaged departure of the group around Václav Havel to the Castle and its unwillingness to coordinate anything led, in only a couple of weeks, to the birth of a chaotic non-system of different power centers that did not cooperate with each other: the Castle, the federal and national governments, the Coordination Center of the Civic Forum, the national and federal parliaments. There was no joint strategic thinking about the future course of the state – at the very beginning it fell prey to the desire for power among certain individuals. The consequences have been felt right up to the present day. As an example we can look at the fate of the civil service.

Early in the spring of 1990 a small group of people from the Coordination Center of the Civic Forum tried to prepare a discussion about future priorities. The creation of a non-political and independent professional civil service was of the utmost importance. A plan was created, according to which a new generation of civil servants and managers with no connection to the previous regime and its timidity was supposed to emerge over the next five years. Every year a thousand gifted students were supposed to be chosen and sent to study at the best western universities that specialised in civil administration. In the meantime, a top Middle-European university center with a similar orientation was supposed to be built. Five thousand new public servants were to create a new civil service ethos based on a strict law and a succession of tests. I remember that in those euphoric times the first promises of financing the whole operation were quick to come. It seemed easy.

But afterwards, strange loyalist and no doubt corrupt clubs calling themselves “political parties” came into being. The very idea of an independent civil servant whose legitimacy would be based solely on the law and who could be touched by nothing but the law, who would be beyond political influence and control, is something the ideological worldview motivated by nothing but corruption cannot accept. Because of that, even twenty years after the spring of 1990 the Czech Republic does not have a functional law on the public service and will not have for a long time.

Because of this “political” infection and infiltration, not even a single generation was enough to enable the creation of an independent judiciary or the institution of public prosecutions. On the contrary, the quality and predictability of the decision making in the Czech courts and public prosecutors are worse than ever. The heroic attempt at a last minute cure connected (in the eyes of the public) with the names of the Supreme Public Attorney Pavel Zeman and the Prague Chief Public Attorney Lenka Bradáčová is also very far from a happy ending. Let us consider one example. We have a paradoxical heritage of the communist regime in the Czech Republic: the existence of a privileged lawless class of football bosses. Probably nowhere in the world are there statutes that would resemble the statutes of the Czech Football Association; article 2 ingenuously states that “the FA’s purpose and mission” is to “promote and protect the interests and rights of football against state, political and other authorities and organizations…” The golden calf of commercial and corruption-ridden football needs to protect itself even against the state. Let us imagine what would follow if for example national minorities’ clubs included a similar formulation in their statutes.

Even in our country the judges of an independent judiciary are forbidden by law to “act as judges or intermediaries in legal disputes” outside the court system. However, until recently four high ranking judges of the Supreme Court and the Municipal Court in Prague had not paid attention to the law and worked for the Arbitrage Commission of the Football Association as well as for some of its other bodies. Sums of many millions are frequently involved in the kind of decision making made there. It is implied in the very fact that only business entities (joint-stock companies) can participate in the Czech first league. The Minister of Justice Jiří Pospíšil was the first person to have the courage to call attention to this long lasting bad habit and a plain conflict of interests. At his entreaty three of the judges resigned from their positions in the football bodies. Stanislav Bernard, the vice-chairman of the Supreme Court in Prague, and at the same time a powerful chair of the Arbitrage Commission of the Football Association defied the minister and the disciplinary prosecution as well. Jiří Pospíšil was removed from office soon after that and the new minister Pavel Blažek withdrew the disciplinary prosecution immediately at the intervention of his friend and a football boss Miloslav Pelta. That is how we, Ivánek, my friend “ promote and protect the interests and rights of football against state, political and other authorities and organizations.”

The hopes for the modernization and “de-corruption” of ODS in power and the opposition ČSSD, naively connected with Petr Nečas at the top of the power structure, were ruined. He ended up just as Dubček’s communist leaders after the occupation in 1968. For the next few months they officially held power and positions but there were other decision makers behind the scene. Similarly, infamous party “godfathers” return to power today. The laws on the public prosecutor’s office and on the civil service were put aside. The Minister of Justice was removed from office and the Police President was fired. Common sense was once more substituted by “politics” and many people started to go silent again. That is exactly how probably the most embarrassing period of modern Czech history began. It had a nice name, it was called “normalization.”

published: 14. 10. 2012

Jan Urban

Jan Urban

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