Havel calls on Prague citizens not to vote for Civic Democrats
The former Czech president Václav Havel has largely refrained from interfering in or commenting on domestic politics since stepping down as president five years ago. But this weekend he seemed to cross that fine line between general philosophising on the state of society and making overtly political gestures, when he said people in Prague should not vote for the right-of-centre Civic Democrats in the forthcoming elections.
In a column for Saturday’s edition of Lidové Noviny newspaper, Mr Havel decries the policies of Prague City Council, controlled by the right-of-centre Civic Democrats, over new theatre funding rules that mean subsidies are meted out according to the number of tickets sold. He ends the article by calling on people not to vote for the Civic Democrats in local and Senate elections in the autumn. Political commentator Petr Just:
“Václav Havel has never left politics, even when he left the post of president. He was aware of the possibility that he would have to again become involved in politics somehow or at least in public discourse. Concerning this issue, we have to take into account that Mr Havel’s original profession was that of playwright, and that actually one of the theatres taking part in the protest against the Civic Democrat-led city government is staging Mr Havel’s play Odcházení. So he is directly involved in this issue, as he is one of the playwrights involved in the city’s theatre and all the issues around it.”
The former president says only a shake up in the City Council leadership can change things, and urges people not to vote for the Civic Democrats in forthcoming elections. Prague, in fact, will not elect a new city assembly until the 2010 municipal elections. But either way commentators such as Petr Just do not believe Václav Havel’s overtly political article will do much damage to the Civic Democrats’ fortunes.