Josh Heller at Current_Comedy and I are conducting a joint investigation into Czech President Vaclav Klaus. This is what I wrote for him post: "Dissent in 2.0, the internet versus Václav Klaus"
The Czech President, Václav Klaus, has been doing his best to hold up the EU’s Lisbon Treaty for a while now, but today he finally ratified it. He’s famously skeptical of the EU, but plenty of people put plenty of pressure on him. Lisbon aims to further unify the EU – giving Europe a President and a “foreign representative” for example. Václav Klaus, notably, is not Václav Havel – the only other post-Soviet Czech President who confusingly also happens to have the first name “Václav.” Havel, a rock star on the diplomatic circuit, is much more liberal – Klaus is considered much more conservative. -AF
Josh goes looking for an anti-Klaus meme, but instead just finds humorous dissent (yes, that's the Czech President on toilet paper).
But what about Klaus the politician? Foreign Policy's Passport blog describes him as a "legendary euroskeptic" and points to their article "The Other Vaclav":
Although mostly known outside his country for his skeptical views on global warming (environmentalism, in his opinion, is "the most prominent antiliberal, populist ideology of the contemporary world, comparable to communism and Nazism.) Klaus is one of the most important figures in post-communist Czech history, and the Lisbon battle is just the latest in a long series of controversial stances in his career. But lately, this lifelong iconoclast appears more and more as a tragic political figure. He is now totally isolated in Europe, shunned by most EU politicians, who view his obstructions as proof of his, and his country's, lack of democratic credentials.
Both Vaclavs, Klaus and Havel were there when the Soviet system collapsed. And both of them quickly made the transition into the new fledgling government. Havel, the poet-President, however, left the game. Which left the Czech Republic in the hands of Klaus, who served as Czech Prime Minister during his rule, and had long been Havel's rival. The NY Review of Books has a great short piece on "Vaclav vs Vaclav":
The two Václavs, it can be said, represent two poles of the broad Czech democratic center. Havel, the more liberal, believed that a new political culture should emerge from a rich and diverse civic society, with a healthy degree of decentralization and strong regional governments. As president he argued for policies that supported the nonprofit sector and mitigated the worst effects of rapid privatization. Klaus, an economist and admirer of Friedrich Hayek, Milton Friedman, and Margaret Thatcher, was a market fundamentalist who believed in a strong central government in the hands of strong political parties.
The political friction between the two men was exacerbated by a clash of personalities. Beneath their quite different exteriors—Klaus abrasive to the point of arrogance, Havel polite to the point of shyness—each man had a firm will that made their differences seem inevitable and irresolvable.
So now the EU has finally gotten its Lisbon treaty, and Klaus seems to have used it to upstage his former rival's global presence. But still no meme for Vaclav Klaus. (If only he had a different first name!)
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