Zuzana Roithová - seeking consensus and transparency in politics

Zuzana Roithová, photo: Šárka Ševčíková

A successful and respected politician on the European, and previously on the national level, Zuzana Roithová seems to be the image of decency in politics. However, her presidential candidacy has so far failed to gather too much public support.

Zuzana Roithová, photo: Šárka Ševčíková
The 59-year old MEP and former Czech Senator, has vowed, as have most of the other presidential candidates, to fight corruption and return public trust in state institutions.

“I will try to create a stable and transparent environment in this country, focusing above all on the individual. So that this is a state that respects the citizen – because that is the only way that citizens will respect the state.”

Ms Roithová’s track record positions her as a pretty good candidate to bring back respect to Czech politics. According to recent statistics, she is one of the most hard-working Czech MPs in the EU parliament. During a brief stint as health minister in the caretaker government of Josef Tošovský in 1998, she attempted to clear her ministry of people who were suspected of corruption. And she successfully headed one of the best known Prague hospitals in Vinohrady in the 1990s.

When she was elected to the Czech Senate in 1998, Ms Roithová joined the Christian Democratic Party. But she says that if she were elected president, she would give up her membership, since she believes a president should not be involved in party politics.

As president, Ms Roithová would invoke the power of veto much less than her predecessor and wants to create more consensus among different political bodies. Her rich political and managerial experience, says the candidate, give her the ability to avoid many of the pitfalls current politicians face.

“I know how to bring people together. I know how to convince people, not through confrontation, but rather through dialogue. I rely on concrete arguments, not myths. I know how to surround myself with competent people. Simply, I know how to create an atmosphere in which things can change for the better.”

Photo: archive of ČRo 7 - Radio Prague
Another topic that will strongly differentiate Ms Roithová from the current Czech president, is the country’s relationship with the EU. A member of the European Parliament for eight years, Ms Roithová wants to change the eurosceptic image of the Czech Republic. She strongly supports using EU funding. But she is also well aware of the role of education and business in the country’s future.

“We all understand that it is necessary to invest in education and innovation, it is important to support business and entrepreneurship. So, small and medium-sized businesses should not be put under any more pressure than they already are. And as president, I would use my position to help attract investors to this country.”

Attitudes towards the Communist Party has been a hotly debated issue for the presidential candidates. Roithová has made her stance very clear – she says she will never confirm a government that would include members of the Communist Party in it. In fact this position is also support by some of her past actions. In November of 1989, she called on her colleagues in the Vinohrady hospital to support student protests against the Communist Party.

Some voters and media critics see her as being just too much in the middle, too nice and clean. Though her appearance may support this image, Ms Roithova has expressed strong definitive stances on a number of issues that Czech politicians have shied away from at the national level. For example, she constructively and effectively opposed ACTA and Canadian visas for Czechs. But this just may not be enough to make Roithová stand out from the other candidates, with current polls showing her in third from last place among the presidential hopefuls.