Communists proposed to chair committee for control of police bugging

Members of one of the two expert teams trying to form a new coalition cabinet have come up with the idea that the parliamentary committee that controls bugging by the police and intelligence services should be chaired by a Communist MP. But with the Czech Republic's totalitarian past, is this a really suitable choice? Alena Skodova reports:

The two expert teams have been discussing not only the formation of a new centre-left cabinet, but also senior posts in the new lower house of parliament. Those who made the proposal have defended their decision, saying that Communists are represented in the existing bugging committee. Anyway, they said, chairpersons have almost no power, so the appointment would be a safe one.

But Hana Marvanova, chairwoman of the Freedom Union, one of the parties that form the right-of-centre Coalition, described the proposal as absurd, pointing to the fact that during 40 years of Communism, illegal tapping was part and parcel of the party's dirty practices. I asked commentator Tomas Pecina for his opinion on the issue.

"I think in practical terms this is almost of no importance, because the position of a chairman of a commission or a committee in the lower house of parliament is a ceremonious function. The chairman has some rights as to procedure but he has only one vote, and as I said it is basically ceremonious and symbolic function, so what I think is that this is a shift in how the communists are viewed in parliament but it does not mean anything practically. Let's take it as a symbol, as an indication, as information that the position of the Communist Party is changing."

The Freedom Union has agreed that they are not going to support the Communists in any leading post in parliament, is this a right view in terms of the election results?

"Well, it is a tradeoff, because if especially a right-wing party wants to show its anti-Communism, it's always a good idea to say ' we are not going to support the Communists in any function in parliament' but of course, there are benefits and there are disadvantages. The advantage is that for the voters of the Communists, for their sympathizers, it is a signal that the Communists are ostracized, that they are not oppressors but oppressed. I personally don't think this is a good idea. Especially in a long-term perspective, because the Communists are now very popular, 18 and a half percent is quite a formidable result, it's quite an achievement in political terms, and I'm not sure this is going to be good for the country if this concept of limited equality is allowed to continue. "