Czech rock star Petr Janda considering run for the Senate

Petr Janda

Musician Petr Janda, who leads the legendary (and long-running) Czech rock band Olympic, has announced he is going to run for the Senate. He is by no means the first Czech show business personality to go into politics since the Velvet Revolution in 1989.

Petr Janda - a well-known figure in Czech music since Olympic first hit the charts in the late 1960s - was offered a chance to run for the Senate by Hnuti nezavislych - the Movement of Independents, a party whose best known representative is controversial TV tycoon Vladimir Zelezny. Mr Janda says, however, that he has been considering entering politics for many years.

"To be honest, I just got this offer now, but I had been flirting with the idea shortly after the Velvet Revolution. However, everything happened so fast at that time. Most of the artists who went into politics in those days were somehow connected to the dissident community, which I was not. Now 15 years after the revolution I got this offer which seemed acceptable to me. I mean mainly in terms of the independence. So I considered it for about two months and then I accepted it."

But Mr Janda isn't the first person to go from show business into politics. From the acting profession there were the legendary Rudolf Hrusinsky, Daniela Kolarova and Jan Kacer, while Michal Kocab was the most famous rock musician to enter politics, shortly after the Revolution.

At the present time, the Movement of Independents are the party which field the most candidates from the world of entertainment. I asked political analyst Vaclav Zak whether he believed the nomination of celebrities might be a successful political strategy for the party of Vladimir Zelezny.

"Well, I would say that the movement is quite unimportant. People like Vladimir Zelezny and Mr Janda who would like to enter politics, probably think that it is the easiest way how to get into politics and they are right. If they would like to candidate for the Senate they would have to collect around 1000 signatures of various people which is time consuming. So it is much better if some unimportant party will nominate them. However, I am quite convinced that the political power of the party is virtually zero."

Vaclav Zak believes that most of these people have no political profile and will thus have no political influence as politics is designed for political parties.

"In this way the Senate starts to be very fragmented. Experts are worrying what will happen after some years. Now we have about ten or twelve of such people in the Senate, but if they were 40, the results of the legislative process would be unpredictable. So it is a dangerous development, they are single personalities in the Parliament and it doesn't matter if they are from show business or from other branches."

According to Vaclav Zak the trend of well known faces getting into politics is not too common in other European countries, and it is of no great benefit to the political culture.

"As far as I know, the developed countries like Austria, Germany or England, I can not remember that people from show business would run for Parliament. Something like that can happen for example in Italy where the famous lady Ciciolina run for Italian Parliament and succeeded. But I don't think it is something very common and recommendable."