Assessing the first hundred days of Petr Nečas

Petr Nečas, photo: CTK

Petr Nečas has now been Czech prime minister for 100 days, a milestone in any leader’s career. He became chairman of the Civic Democratic Party just as campaigning for parliamentary elections was getting underway, and soon after voting at the end of May found himself head of a three-party right-of-centre coalition. But what kind of prime minister has Mr Nečas been so far? Radio Prague has been gauging opinion.

Petr Nečas, photo: CTK
Petr Nečas cannot yet be called a generally ‘popular’ prime minister, but he remains one of the better-liked politicians in the country and he enjoys a reputation as an efficient administrator and above-the-board operator. To get a sense of public opinion we spoke with two political analysts, beginning with Petr Just of the Metropolitan University of Prague.

“It’s quite typical that governments are evaluated after 100 days, but I believe it’s quite complicated in this specific case of the government of Petr Nečas because the major task, or the major result, of the hundred-day governance of this government has been to set some principles that would influence the long-term goals.”

Well he’s face several challenges and even a couple of minor scandals, and the across-the-board budget cuts seem not to be very popular, particularly as they involve cutting state employees’ salaries. So how do you view that – do you believe Petr Nečas could have done a better job of presenting his plans to the public?

“The cuts are a part of their programme of stabilising public finances, and of course they have caused a negative reaction from the groups that will be effected by them. The government has quite a hard task, because explaining cuts is always quite unpopular and quite hard, so they will ahve to do even more and even better in this case, because I don’t think they have explained it clearly enough so far or in a way that would help the public employees to understand why it is being done.”

Vladimíra Dvořáková heads the school of international relations at the Prague College of Economics.

“I think these days have not been very easy for the prime minister. On the other hand we can say that the coalition that was formed is still in existence, which is quite important for the stability of the Czech Republic. They are preparing for reforms, the reforms are strongly criticised by many opponents, but we shall see whether the cabinet will be able to push them through parliament in the end. The position of Petr Nečas within the party seems to be quite stable. There are sometimes questions as to who is the key person in the coalition, whether him or the Minister of Finance, Mr Kalousek. But I would say this is quite a normal question in a situation when reforms effecting finances and the budget are being prepared.”

As for the word on the street, the Praguers who we asked about Petr Nečas and his first 100 days were felt either positive or not enough informed.

“Petr Nečas? I don’t have any opinion yet. But we will see.”

“He does quite a good job, I like the politics of Petr Nečas, I think he is successful.”

“I think he’s doing quite well, I’ve heard a lot about his work and I think he’s quite a good prime minister.”

100 days, so far so good, but the next real reading of the political temperature will come soon enough, first in local elections, and then in 2011, when some of the strictest austerity measures in recent history begin taking place.