New trade minister appointment stirs controversy
President Klaus has appointed Civic Democrat Martin Kuba to head the ministry of Trade and Industry, following the resignation of Martin Kocourek last week. Though Mr Kocourek’s tenure ended amid allegations of corruption, the new minister was clearly not chosen on the basis of a controversy-free political history, as Christian Falvey reports.
Ultimately Martin Kuba’s sway in South Bohemia may have been a decisive factor in his attaining the post. For one thing, there is the subject of the completion of the Temelín nuclear power plant, which is playing out in his domain. Speaking to the daily Mladá fronta on Wednesday, Mr Kuba conceded that he had discussed this point with the prime minister, and that his pro-nuclear position and work on development issues in South Bohemia may have played a role in his selection. Where natural speculation as to politicking is concerned, some analysts have also considered the fact that with the selection of Martin Kuba, Prime Minister Nečas seals up support in an important region.
Critics of the government and the Civic Democratic Party will be largely unimpressed with the choice of Martin Kuba as industry minister. Most prominent of his initial opponents is the man who many considered a safe bet for the position, MP Michal Doktor. A Civic Democrat of 20 years, Mr Doktor officially withdrew his membership from the party on Wednesday, hard feelings seemingly intact. Doktor, who is also from South Bohemia, called the Prime Minister’s decision not only bad, but tragically bad. While he did not intend to vote against the government necessarily, he said that if the prime minister does not find a lesson to be learned through all the people who have been stung by Martin Kuba in his region, then he must part ways with him.
Others have decried Mr Kuba as a long arm of the aforementioned Pavel Dlouhý, while some media have rehashed his involvement with the controversial company PSM, which was accused of drawing investors into a Ponzi-type scheme in the 1990s.