President Klaus says this term will be his last

Staatspräsident Vaclav Klaus

President Václav Klaus says that this term of office will be his last, even if the country introduces direct election of the head of state by 2013, when his current term ends. Few can imagine Czech politics without a man who has been one of its central figures, for better and for worse, for 20 years. To discuss the statement and the possible future of the president’s political career, I spoke with political analyst Petr Just, who I began by asking if he was surprised that the president doesn’t harbour ambitions for a third term.

“Well it’s not very surprising. First of all, the constitution still has terms limits on two consecutive terms, and if the constitution doesn’t change then Václav Klaus will be unable to seek a third term. But even if he was able to seek a third term, I think he has already done so many strange things in his time in office that it would be quite hard for many of his previous voters to give him their votes again.”

Václav Klaus
But in terms of polls he’s quite popular actually, judging by that he would seem to have a good chance of being re-elected, if direct elections were to be instated, is that not the case?

“The public opinion polls do not show the popularity of Václav Klaus as a person but Václav Klaus as the holder of the office of president. This has been quite common in the Czech Republic, and previously in Czechoslovakia - not only during the First Republic but also during communism - that the office of the president is quite prestigious, and everyone who has held the office has had more popularity as president than he would have as a personality.”

Well he seems to be enjoying himself in the office of president, could you imagine him leaving the presidency only to go into another executive role in politics?

“Václav Klaus is very active politician, and he’s in good physical condition as well, so I suppose that after leaving the presidency in 2013 he definitely will not want to leave politics altogether. There has been speculation about new parties that he could found, or even re-found, but it’s all speculation now, because there are still three years to go, and I think these speculations will of course grow more and more intense as his term expires.”

President Klaus is also known as a long-term strategist, and he’s notably unhappy with the course of the party that he started, the Civic Democratic Party, could he in fact be planning a return of sorts to the Civic Democrats?

“When he was running for his second term in 2008, I thought it was quite possible that had he not been re-elected he would have returned to the party and taken the party leadership back. But I’m not sure if he would return to the Civic Democratic Party in the current situation – where there have been turbulent changes between Klaus and the Civic Democrats in the year and a half since the elections. But, of course, it’s still an open issue, but I would see it as being less likely.”