The Return of Milos Zeman

I don’t like to get political here, but when it comes to former Czech Prime Minister Milos Zeman, I can’t resist. Whether or not Zeman placed the interests of his fellow countrymen above his own is questionable – just as it is with nearly all Czech politicians (or practically any politician, for that matter) – but I’m not talking about his abilities as a a Prime Minister. This is all about personality, superficial stuff. Leave the political analysis to the pros.

Milos Zeman at work
Urp… no, I believe it’s your round

Just as American politics scare the shit out of me, Czech politics make me laugh (Canadian politics don’t really do anything for me simply because I’m completely out of the loop). I watch a fair amount of political commentary and debate on Czech TV, and Jitka fills me in on major issues. However, overall, I don’t pay domestic politics all that much mind. Perhaps if I could vote (and as a payer of taxes and social insurance here I goddamn well should have that right) I would read into Czech parliamentary hijinx more deeply.

I tend to scan articles with headlines that catch my eye while going through the Prague Monitor. This one is a gem: Zeman behaved like pig, deserves slaps in the face, Buzkova says

To me, Zeman was the ideal representative of the stereotypical working-class, suburban (or small town or village), Czech man. A chauvinistic, Becherovka-swilling, chain smoking, mumbling, bumbling, yet oddly intelligent (say what you will, but for all their flaws, the Czechs have never had a truly stupid Prime Minister in the time I’ve been living here), strangely likeable boor. I’m not saying he was the ideal representative of his country, but the man has a certain flair about him that no recent leader can touch.

I’ve never trusted Klaus, and I sincerely hope that someday his sneering arrogance provokes a journalist to bitchslap that smugly squinting lipless Hitler-esque mug of his. Spidla strikes me as a spineless little background prop, a barely discernible footnote in the annals of Czech history. And Gross is simply ridiculous – he’s too young and inept at covering his ass; a perfect patsy, puppet and whipping boy.

But Zeman, ah, Zeman?? he’s so direct and pig-headed. He has never given a shit about what anybody thinks and how his words and actions could affect his career. So as PM he said exactly what was on his mind, and continues to do so. In a way, in high politics Milos Zeman was like a dark version of Josef Svejk, stumbling his way through and along the front lines of Czech politics, somehow ending up as the country’s PM.

I can see how he could strike a lot of people as arrogant. Not a Klausian arrogance, but the arrogance of a high-ranking NO MA’AM officer. But the title of his political memoirs, How I Erred in Politics, may suggest a trace of humility in the bleary eyed former PM. In any case, Zeman is making headlines in the political pages again (here’s another beauty: Election of Gross as chairman is path to political suicide, Zeman says) and I for one, as a casual observer of punchline-rich Czech politics, am glad.

Mar 30, 09:10 (Filed under: People )

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  1. Though I am not sure I can agree about Klaus with you (and I think that Spidla and Gross are perfect examples of stupid PMs) – your description of Zeman is spot on!
    Lemuel Kolkava    Apr 2, 18:32    #
  2. Thanks for your comment. I don’t think you can convince me that Klaus isn’t arrogant. As for Spidla and Gross, I wouldn’t say they’re stupid in the strictest sense of the word – according to Gross’ inability to cover up his shady (actually, are they really that shady?) business dealings one could call him stupid, but as a politician, well, I don’t think one gets to be PM if one is stupid.
    Patrick    Apr 2, 19:49    #
  3. I didnt mean to say that Klaus is not arrogant, but I think his arrogance is a “healthy” arrogance ;-)
    Lemuel Kolkava    Apr 3, 19:33    #
  4. Fair enough, but I still think the way Klaus conducts himself among journalists has earned him his fair share of bitchslaps.
    Patrick    Apr 5, 21:27    #