Czelections: Nutty and purple

Saturday, October 26, 2013

So Czechs have been without a proper government since June, when Parliament collapsed amid a corruption/sex scandal. Elections, which took place yesterday and today, happened a year ahead of schedule to deal with the mess. 

Unlike the USA, this country has both a President, who is the head of state, and a Prime Minister, who is head of Parliament. Traditionally, the President has limited powers, but when Parliament collapsed, current President Miloš Zeman defied protocol and appointed his good buddy to lead a technocratic "government of experts." However, that group resigned in August. 

And you thought American politics were nutty.

Zeman, who has been criticized for public drunkenness, recently gave a speech at a Phillip Morris factory and stated that cigarettes are harmless if you start smoking in adulthood

One thing I do appreciate about Czech politics is the breadth of parties, which seems to offer voters more choice.  Here's how the top 3 out of 8 main parties fared in today's election results:

  • Social Democrats: 20.45%
  • ANO 2011: 18.65%
  • Communists: 14.91%
Apparently, the results are shocking, and none of the top 3 parties have enough clout to form a government alone; two will have to form a coalition. If you want to know more, read THIS from the BBC.

While following all of this hooplah has been engrossing, my favorite part of Czelections 2013 is the giant purple middle finger Czech artist David Cerny floated on the Vltava River all week; BW and I went to see it yesterday.

At 33 feet high, the sculpture is meant to flip the bird at the President and the Communist Party. Cerny told The New York Times, "This finger is aimed straight at castle politics. After 23 years [since the fall of Communism], I am horrified at the prospect of the Communists returning to power and of Mr. Zeman helping them to do so."

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