Will Dalik incident further impact politician/journalist relationship as well as government talks?

Marek Dalik, photo: CTK

At the weekend a second attempt to form a new government was made all the more complicated; it was revealed that an advisor to Civic Democrat Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek, had intimated the party were preparing to dupe the Social Democrats. The advisor, Marek Dalik, later denied this. However, his words had been secretly recorded by newspaper Mlada fronta Dnes and were broadcast on TV. Despite this evidence, the prime minister is standing by his advisor. The question now is: what further impact will there be?

Marek Dalik, photo: CTK
Jan Velinger spoke to political analyst Jiri Pehe.

"I would argue that Mr Dalik's statements have damaged to some extent the prospects for creating a stable government simply because he alleged that the Civic Democratic Party was not sincerely negotiating on a new government with the Social Democratic Party but was waiting for a moment in which it would be able to form a government based on one or two 'defectors' from the other side.

"Of course, there has never been a very high level of trust between the two largest parties in the Czech Republic but now we are in a second attempt to form a government and it seems to me that the two parties don't have much time to waste on various tactical moves. This is a discouraging piece of news simply because one would expect the two parties to get down to serious business because we are six months after elections and the Czech Republic is still without a stable government."

To what extent do you think that the revelations have weakened the position of the Civic Democrat leader Mirek Topolanek?

Mirek Topolanek, photo: CTK
"Well, Mirek Topolanek certainly has a very strange relationship with Mr Dalik and this is not the first time that Mr Dalik has damaged Topolanek's reputation by making statements that were outrageous. You can go back to his statements about Martin Borman, the Nazi criminal who was in Dalik's opinion was something like an 'example' of his relationship with Topolanek: he compared his relationship to Mr Topolanek to Borman's relationship to Hitler. That was a very outrageous statement and afterwards nothing really happened.

"One has to ask 'What is behind this? Why is it that Mr Topolanek doesn't get rid of Mr Dalik?' Is there something more behind it than just a relationship between a politician and his advisor? I think that's a question that some people even within the Civic Democratic Party will be asking."

In that regard, do you think it was legitimate to secretly tape the conversation with Mr Dalik, in terms of the public's need to know?

"Taping the interview secretly of course has to do with media ethics and that's a separate issue, but it is clear that the Czech media are not very professional in this respect: we have seen a very free use of various wiretaps and leaks and so on and now we see a journalists interviewing someone close to a top politician secretly taping.

"On the other hand, one has to understand that journalists are trying to protect themselves because we had cases in the past where there were allegations of corruption that couldn't be proven. So, I think that journalists are trying to protect themselves."

Do you think that will have a future impact on politicians who will be worried their interviews are being secretly taped?

"Absolutely. I think that journalists are really getting on thin ice here and will find it very hard now to interview interesting people, top politicians in private. Top politicians and their advisors and so on will be afraid they are being set up just like Mr Dalik."