Prime Minister Jan Fischer to become vice-president of European Bank for Reconstruction and Development

Prime Minister Jan Fischer, photo: www.vlada.cz

Prime Minister Jan Fischer will be leaving Czech politics after May’s general elections. The head of the caretaker government said on Tuesday he was nominated for vice-president of the London-based European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. The 59-year old former statistician should assume the post by the beginning of September.

The prime minister of the caretaker Czech government has accepted a nomination to become one the bank’s three vice-presidents, replacing Slovakia’s Brigita Schmögnerová. After he is formally approved by the bank’s board of directors, he will be in charge of communication with the countries where the bank is active as well as with suppliers, contractors and consultants. Mr Fischer will also oversee the environmental and social impacts of the bank’s activities.

Prime Minister Jan Fischer, photo: www.vlada.cz
Mr Fischer last year completed the Czech Republic’s term of the presidency of the EU after the fall of the political government of Mirek Topolánek, acquiring valuable experience and contacts in the process.

After initial doubts over the choice of a technocrat for prime minister, Jan Fisher quickly gained public support and has become one of the most popular prime ministers in the country’s modern history. Polls have continuously indicated an 80 percent support rating, which is quite unusual for executive politicians. But before Mr Fischer was handpicked to lead the caretaker cabinet in March 2009, the closest he came to politics was when he joined the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia in 1980, a move he later regretted. A statistician by profession, Jan Fischer became in 2003 the director of the Czech Statistical Office, a government agency in charge of organizing elections, among other things.

Photo: European Commission
There was much speculation about Mr Fischer’s future, once his cabinet is replaced by a political government after May’s general elections. Some commentators suggested he could capitalize on his popularity with the public and join one of the Czech political parties – the conservative TOP 09 was sometimes mentioned in this connection. But the prime ministers repeatedly said he was not cut out for a political career, noting that while he enjoyed the administrative part of politics, he hated the wheeling and dealing it involves.

Jan Fischer is set to start his new job on September 1. The only catch that might keep him from moving to London are the negotiations about the new government after general elections on May 28 and 29. After the last elections in 2006, it took some two months to form a new government, so the schedule might be somewhat tight.