Political analyst: corruption is like a cancer that destroys the working of the state

Addressing the lower house ahead of a confidence vote in his centre right government on Friday Prime Minister Petr Necas asked deputies for support in the interest of pressing ahead with key reforms which would lead to stability and prosperity in the future. Professor Vladimira Dvorakova says that before this objective can be achieved –by this government or any other – the country will need to deal with its biggest problem: corruption and a lack of political ethics.

Photo: Barbora Němcová
“I think the biggest problem of the reforms is the way in which they are undertaken. We can all agree on the need to affect reforms in various spheres –pension, health, education and so on –that’s obvious. But the way in which these reforms are undertaken is very often influenced by corruption – and inside the reform, inside the proposed bill you can find something where you can be sure that this will be the part where you can take money. Someone will take that money and use it. So it is not in the interest of making something more effective – the main concern behind the reform –which is paid for by the common people - is who will control the funds.”

Given what you’ve just said it would seem to be near impossible to implement reforms, even to continue with the process – are you totally pessimistic?

“I think change is essential. We are in a situation where corruption is like a cancer that totally destroys the working of the state. It is hard to describe, but there are ministries that do not work, that have no professional civil servants and you see the state making decisions that are unpredictable. This is something that is not only a problem in the eyes of the common people but it is above all a problem for entrepreneurs, for businesspeople. I have spoken to the leaders of successful businesses and they tell me “you know, I will leave the country –it is not possible to work here under these conditions” and this is a problem. But it is also about the fact that people are watching the government and every two weeks or so they see conflicts –conflicts in which one part of the cabinet says that the other half are criminals. Can you trust such a government? Can you trust that the reforms they undertake are really good? We have seen half the cabinet members replaced during the past six months and most of the cases were linked to corruption.”

It seems that people have lost trust in politicians in general –what is the solution to this problem?

The Czech Parliament
“Accountability. This is not a question whether there is a vote of confidence or not. And new elections can only be a partial solution. I honestly do not believe that new politicians can change the situation. There needs to be pressure from below – NGOs and activists from civil society who would act as a watchdog. We need strong pressure from below for the institutions to change and for NGOs to control the way in which they are changed. We need professionals, an un- politicized civil service. Of course that is a long term process. I do not believe that new elections would bring about an end to corruption scandals. But it is necessary to say – this is enough, there are limits.”