Czech prime minister in hot water over inappropriate language

The Czech prime minister has never been one to mince his words. And his increasingly controversial statements and vulgar gestures have now got him in hot water. His behaviour has raised the ire of the opposition and most recently the Union of War Veterans. To top it all, a Prague lawyer is now pressing charges against him for promoting an extremist ideology.

Mirek Topolanek,  photo: CTK
F-words, a raised middle finger in Parliament and even a physical attack against a tabloid reporter - the Czech prime minister's volatile outbursts regularly fill the front pages of the tabloid dailies. Now even the serious papers are discussing his behaviour. In a text message sent to a journalist on Monday the Prime Minister used the German phrase "Es kommt der Tag" - "the day will come", a slogan Czechs are particularly sensitive about since it was used by the Sudeten Germans who called for the annexation of the Sudeten lands by Adolf Hitler. As an isolated incident it could have been dismissed, but it was not the first time that the prime minister showed off his German. In June of 2005 he said the ruling Social Democrats could expect "a night of the long knives" if his party won the elections - the phrase that refers to the bloody purge of Hitler's political opponents and potential rivals in 1934. And in 2003 Topolanek compared the Social Democrats' election promises to the Auschwitz Lie, the notorious German booklet that denied the Holocaust.

"It was stupid and thoughtless - I am sorry I opened my mouth" he said later.

Jiri Paroubek,  photo: CTK
However he failed to learn his lesson and his third reference to the Nazi years has resulted in legal action. At best he will have to explain his words to the Prague State Attorney.

Public surveys suggest that the prime minister's behaviour is not going down well with the public. A poll conducted by the online server Novinky indicates that 70 percent of Czechs feel the prime minister overstepped the boundaries of good taste. His words are also grist to the mill of the opposition. Opposition leader Jiri Paroubek said on Wednesday that the prime minister should get a grip and apologize to the public. And recently a communist MP sent a letter to President Klaus asking him to talk to the prime minister about his inappropriate behaviour in the lower house, where he has been known to stick out his tongue and accuse MPs of having verbal diarrhea. "Someone should tell the prime minister he is not being funny" the head of the war veterans union said on Monday. Whether anyone will take up the suggestion remains to be seen.