Klaus ally launches new party to fight Lisbon Treaty

Petr Mach, photo: CTK

A new right-wing political party was unveiled on Monday by a close ally of Czech president Vaclav Klaus. Petr Mach, who heads Mr Klaus's think-tank the Centre for Economics and Politics, told journalists the Free Citizens Party would fight ratification of the EU's Lisbon Treaty, push for a referendum on the euro and may cooperate with Declan Ganley's Libertas group ahead of this year's elections to the European Parliament. Supporters of the new party include both of Mr Klaus's sons, three MPs, and a senator. And also Benjamin Kuras, a journalist and writer who once worked for Radio Prague.

Benjamin Kuras (left), Petr Mach, photo: CTK
“The fact that I've joined the founding committee of the new party does not mean that I'm quitting writing. I will just add a little bit of politics to all the other professions that I've done in my life, and I hope to be able to write about politics in a more involved and insightful way than I have been so far. It's very easy to jeer at politicians from the sidelines, but it gets a bit difficult once you're in and understand what they have to go through. So I'm taking it predominantly as a writer's experience, and hope that by doing that, I will help Czech politics to straighten up a bit.”

Czech politics is already quite a crowded tent. Are you confident that there is room for a party on the right of the political spectrum, a eurosceptic party?

“The latest poll that was published I think just before the New Year, suggested that there is a 22% gap between the centre-right and the edge of the democratic right, before it becomes the extreme right. So if that's what the market wants, we are prepared to offer it at the moment.”

Petr Mach with co-founders of the party Miloslav Bednář and Jaroslav Bachora, photo: CTK
And these are people – Czech citizens – who are disappointed with the politics of the main centre-right parties like the Civic Democrats, people who oppose the Lisbon Treaty, people who oppose deeper European integration?

“Yes, and there's more to that. There is a growing awareness in many member countries that the politicians are beginning to behave like ancient lords and...not quite yet tyrants, but we may get there if we don't stop them, and disregarding the will of the people. As has been shown in Holland and France during the referenda on the Constitutional Treaty, and has been shown again in Ireland on the Lisbon Treaty.”

In Ireland all that happened was that the people said No, and they will be asked again how they feel about this treaty. Surely that is democracy, that is asking people what they want?

“Is it though? If they keep saying No, is it going to continue, pushing them until they say Yes? That is what it looks like at the moment. And I would have said that if the rules of the club say that if one member says No, then it's No. It should be No, and forever.”

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