Klauses plot return with new party – but what will its prospects be?

Václav Klaus Jr., photo: Jana Přinosilová, ČRo

Weeks after his expulsion from the Civic Democrats, anti-EU MP Václav Klaus Jr. has revealed plans to launch a new party following May’s Euro elections. His father, the well-known former prime minister and president Václav Klaus, is set to occupy an honorary role in the new grouping. I discussed the politics and prospects of “Young Klaus” – as many call him in Czech – with political scientist Petr Just.

Václav Klaus Jr.,  photo: Jana Přinosilová,  ČRo
“Václav Klaus Jr. has long been publicly active in presenting views which we could identify as national conservatism.

“He tries to stress family values, although his critics point out that he has been divorced twice.

“And of course he is known for Euro-scepticism, which has been a long-term issue not only for Václav Klaus Jr. but also for his father.

“This was first presented in a more soft way, just as critical towards the European Union.

“But now the views of both Klaus Jr. and his father have switched more to hard Euro-scepticism that is not based just on criticism and attempts to reform the European Union but aims to actually withdraw from the EU and to reject everything to do with the EU and EU policies.”

Obviously we don’t even know the name of this party yet. But what section of the electorate do you think they’re likely to be targeting? Will they be aiming to be a mainstream party, or will they be more on the margins?

“I think the parties from today’s party system that should be most afraid of Klaus Jr.’s potential party project are especially Freedom and Direct Democracy.

“But not only them, although Freedom and Direct Democracy are probably the most visible one, because they are represented in the Parliament.

“And there are some connections between Klaus Jr. and some Freedom and Direct Democracy policies and representatives.

“But there are also other parties that are now probably less visible because they are outside Parliament – and they might be actually threatened by Klaus Jr. and his upcoming political party.

“One of them could be the Party of Free Citizens [Svobodní], which was previously established also by some Civic Democrat defectors.”

Václav Klaus Sr. is evidently going to have an honorary role in this new party. Obviously he’s one of the most dominant politicians here in the last 30 years, along with Havel and current president Zeman. But today, six years after he left high politics, how is Václav Klaus perceived, would you say?

Václav Klaus Sr.,  photo: Jana Přinosilová,  ČRo
“Václav Klaus Sr. is still among the most dominant politicians even after retiring from all active political offices.

“He presents quite provocative views.

“I think many people are attracted to learning about his views or his positions, just because of their provocativeness.

“People like this kind of discussion. They probably like that somebody is raising issues which are not part of mainstream political discussions.

“He is still kind of visible, although I don’t think that the visibility he draws is always of the type which would bring some positive support for a possible party project that Václav Klaus Sr. would support or be part of.

“So I think his views will still be attractive for many people. But not necessarily in a way that they would have to follow it.”