“Invisible man” sworn is as new justice minister
New Justice Minister Pavel Blažek was sworn in by President Klaus on Tuesday at 10am in a ceremony at Prague Castle also attended by Prime Minister Petr Nečas. The relationship between Blažek and fellow Civic Democrat Nečas, and the ability of the former to carry out his job independently will undoubtedly be at the heart of assessments of the new justice minister’s performance.
Lofty words there from new Justice Minister Pavel Blažek spoken to President Klaus on the occasion of his swearing in on Tuesday morning. But a litany of complex challenges awaits the new justice minister. The 43-year-old Brno lawyer has served his Civic Democratic Party for several years, climbing up the ranks from city councillor to vice-chairman of the party. But despite rising to the inner circles of power within ODS, some even within his own party, have dubbed him the “invisible man” for his low profile and hitherto shunning of the media spotlight.
Bradáčová, a scrupulously honest attorney who has proved relentless in her anti-corruption crusade, would replace Vlastimil Rampula who earned a nickname in the Czech media as a man who “swept” crucial corruption cases, often involving shady government tenders, under the rug.
“He is a very good politician and an expert in his field, so I believe that he will manage to run the ministry without any problems.”
However, Social Democrat senator Jiří Dienstbier expressed concerns being echoed by many.
“We will see if he comes in to the position merely as an ambassador of those circles who are seeking to block reforms in our justice system.”
But other challenges are faced by the Justice Ministry too. While PM Nečas continues to emphasize austerity and cutbacks, former minister Pospíšil had sought an increase in his ministry’s budget of one billion crowns in order to help tackle chronic overcrowding in Czech prisons, currently running at around 24,000 people.
“It may sound somewhat paradoxical, but it may be possible to find large savings in the prison service because the Czech Republic really has a large number of people behind bars. I think the overall prison system needs to be very closely looked at. Also, reforms to fully computerize the justice system are also crucial, as today it remains far too bureaucratic and based too much on filling out forms rather than looking for justice.”
The ensuing battles over just which path forward the justice ministry will take, will undoubtedly determine whether Blažek’s is viewed as a success or failure.