I am part Czech. I have some dear Czech relatives most of whom as it happens do not live in the Republic. I have travelled to Prague several times. Like many I love the place and had a view of the Czechs as hard working, democratic, creative Western Europeans. Who since the fall of Communism and the rise of Saint Havel ,have taken their place among the good guys of the West.
Ooops. Very wrong. These are not new stories . Imagine. When John Major was PM he had an affair with MP Edwina Currie. She gets MI5 to spy on Mrs Major. Meanwhile in order to keep the rebels in his party in line Major pays off the leaders of the rebellion with top £100k plus directorships in government quangos. At the same time a police raid finds £5m in cash and a large amount of gold at Tory Party HQ, Meanwhile a top businessman is taped talking to the London mayor about fixing appointments, the sale of city property and the spread of expensive gifts for key officials. It didn’t happen in the UK .
Yet this is what has just happened in the Czech Republic where the PM and his chief of staff have had to step down because of the repercussions of their affair. The latest squeeze got the secret service to check out the missus. Mr wheeler dealer gets on the phone to the mayor. All kinds of bribes flow round the sewer that is the Czech parliament.. 95 per cent of Czechs feel that corruption exists at all levels, 71 per cent of companies feel that corruption in the Republic is a brake on doing business. Prague city hall stinks There is a massive scandal in the over pricing of highway projects in Prague and both the Defence and Finance Ministers have been involved in trousering millions from armaments contracts. Many excuse these dealings as “politics”. This is not Western European but sub Saharan governance. Similar stories ooze out of Slovakia, Hungary and Poland. Don’t tell UKIP.
Such is the Good Soldier Svejk attitude of cynical resignation among the Czechs that enterprising guides offer Corruption Tours.
Here you are shown the outlandish villas owned by civil servants, there you are shown the over priced projects. At the end of the tour you are “awarded” a “degree in corrupt administration” . Which is of course a snook at the ease of buying “real” degrees not least in law. And as for the law, the Czech judiciary recently ruled that most of those caught with their hands, elbows and the rest in the state kitty cannot be prosecuted as they enjoy parliamentary immunity.
Thank God we live in a country where for all the faults of our political class,the relatively minor fiddling of expenses is still taken seriously.