Public Affairs party remains a mystery to many

Radek John (Foto: ČTK)

One of the winners of these elections and a newcomer to Parliament, the Public Affairs party, clearly owes its success to its leader Radek John, a former TV journalist who is a household name in the Czech Republic. His investigative programme on commercial TV NOVA focused on uncovering corruption, something the party has promised to do in top politics as well. However, aside from its self-proclaimed role of watchdog, the party’s background and ambitions remain unclear even to its potential coalition partners. I spoke to political analyst Vladimíra Dvořáková and first asked her what made Public Affairs so appealing to voters.

Radek John,  photo: CTK
“There is no anti-establishment party on the Czech political scene, something that’s quite common in many countries. Anti-establishment parties are parties that are very populist; parties that have a strong leader who is able to appeal to the public - and we know that Radek John was a very popular journalist. So there was space for such a party on the Czech political scene. Very often such parties tend to be xenophobic and anti-immigration but in this case, to our big surprise, that is not the case. They do criticise the establishment and the behaviour of established political parties but fortunately there is no xenophobic or anti-immigration message.”

What do we actually know about Public Affairs? What is their background?

“That is something we don’t know. Some analysts speak about “direct economic interest”. They claim that it was an interest group that formed a political party in order to carry out their interests. This is one opinion. The party gained a lot of money for the election campaign so the question is where the money came from and which group supported it. And, we don’t know what will be the behaviour of the party later.

There is, for instance, one phenomenon that is quite surprising: all the party’s candidates running for Parliament had to sign a proclamation that they would vote in accordance with the leadership of the party. That is something that goes against the representative mandate and independence of the MP. It is something one would expect from radical right-wing parties and I can’t understand why young people are ready to accept it.”

What can we actually expect from this party and what role it is going to play in the future government?

“The party will probably enter into a centre-right coalition. This is the most probable scenario. There would be a three-member coalition of Civic Democrats, TOP 09 and Public Affairs. On the other hand we are not sure how well this party would be able to seek and accept compromises. There is also another possibility that there would be a two-member coalition and Public Affairs would support the cabinet only when it would be acceptable for the party.”