Klaus comeback - what are the odds?

Václav Klaus, photo: Filip Jandourek
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There was a flurry of speculation this summer that the former president, Václav Klaus, was contemplating a return to active politics, even that he would lead a new party of conservative eurosceptics into October's early election. The speculation was fuelled by Jana Bobošíková, a Klaus admirer and leader of the nationalist Sovereignty party. In the end, the idea withered as quickly as it appeared; Mr Klaus announced he would not be standing. The next opportunity, therefore, is next year's Senate, regional or European Parliament elections. But is a comeback truly a realistic prospect? I discussed that question with Petr Just, a political scientist teaching at Metropolitan University in Prague.

Václav Klaus, photo: Filip Jandourek
"I don't think he can achieve anything more. Generally speaking, becoming president or head of state is usually the end of a political career of any active politician. Usually any activities after leaving presidential office relate to public events, but not directly that he would be running for office or he would enter party politics again. And the same can be applied to the Czech Republic. I don't think Václav Klaus today enjoys such popularity and has such charisma or influence on the public as he did in the 1990s."

If he did find a way to return to domestic politics, surely any such return would naturally have to start with an MP's seat or maybe a senator's seat again? And that strikes me as a bit beneath a man who has held the highest ranks of office in this country.

Jana Bobošíková, photo: CTK
"This is in my opinion one of the reasons why he in the end dropped the opportunity to return to national politics in the early elections that will be held in October. He considered that there would be a positive chance of getting into parliament, but the position he would have held would have been a regular MP or a member of a junior coalition party, but not the person who would be in the spotlight, not a person who would have much influence on the policy making of the future government."

And as we know, Václav Klaus is someone who likes the spotlight.

"Václav Klaus is a very self-centred person. He likes to be admired. He likes to have people around him who show him admiration. This is the reason why he is so close to Mrs Bobošíková or Boris Stastný, the MP. And definitely holding a position of MP, without any major office, without any major function, would leave Václav Klaus very nervous I would say."

Other men, other former statesmen, 72 years of age, would be playing a few rounds of golf, or tennis perhaps, accepting well-paid speaking appointments and writing books. That doesn't seem to be enough for Václav Klaus.

Petr Just, photo: archive of Charles University
"I think Václav Klaus still expects to do some of these things, especially lecturing. He lectured quite a lot during his terms as president and prime minister. So I don't think this is something he would leave behind. But he still thinks that politics is more influential for him to spread his influence, spread his ideas, while lecturing is always for some limited group of people, a limited audience. He comes to the classroom, he comes to some auditorium, he lectures for a limited number of people, but he would definitely would feel much happier if he could present his opinions, his statements, to the broader public, in politics."