Rebel Civic Democrat Vlastimil Tlustý: “I don’t want to bring down the government”

Vlastimil Tlutý, photo:

The centre-right government has been hit by the most serious crisis in its existence, with Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek admitting the possibility of a minority government. There is now infighting within each of the three coalition parties – the Civic Democrats, the Christian Democrats and the Greens – with a number of MPs opposing various issues on the cabinet’s agenda. One of the outspoken rebels is Civic Democrat deputy Vlastimil Tlustý, who earlier this month torpedoed the government’s plan for the restitution of church property. Radio Prague asked Mr Tlustý if he really wanted to bring down the government.

“Not at all. There are many examples where you can see that I support the government. The problem is in the so-called restitution of church property act. It isn’t standard restitution that is proposed. I completely support standard restitution to the country’s churches but it’s not possible to pay anything more or even six or seven times more.”

Are there going to be any more votes in Parliament during which the government will not be able to rely on your support?

“I am not planning such a strategy. I can only tell you that if there is something normal, I will support it. And if there is something that is not normal, some proposal that is not normal – and the act prepared by the Czech government for the restitution of church property was completely abnormal and it’s not possible to support it – then I won’t. So we will see what is and what is not normal.”

Will you support the treaty with the United States on siting a U.S. tracking radar base in the Czech Republic?

“Yes, I am in favour of that. The problem is with the Greens – in that party, at least three people are against it which means that the coalition today does not have enough votes to pass it.”

You said you were not alone in your party with these views. Do you think that perhaps the best thing to do would be for the Civic Democrats to relinquish power and head for an early general election?

“I don’t think so because I don’t see enough MPs who would be for such a way of dealing with the current political situation. If something is not realistic, it makes no sense to think about it.”

Are you going to run for the chairman of your party, the Civic Democrats, in the autumn?

“It has not been my plan for the last 18 years and it is not my plan today. So the answer is no.”

I’m asking because the majority of your party has one view on the church property restitution and other issues, while the minority, of which you seem to be the informal leader, has another. Would you like to promote your views within the party more?

“But you have to add that this only happened in some special cases like the church property restitution and tax reductions, and that’s all. Please check this, but I’m sure that mostly, in more than 90 percent of the votes, my colleagues and I voted in the same way as the rest of the party’s MPs here in Parliament.”