Pekarova Adamová: Majority of voters preferred decency and truth in the presidential election
The Czech Republic has a new president. In March, Miloš Zeman will be replaced by a newly elected head of state, General Petr Pavel. More than 3 million voters are happy about his election, but so are some politicians. For example, the head of the lower house of parliament, Markéta Pekarová Adamová. In an interview with Blesk Zprávy, she said, among other things, that it was good news that Czechs did not believe the lies. She commented on the debacle of ANO chairman Andrej Babiš, whose future is being speculated.
The first question is. What do you think about the choice of the citizens of the Czech Republic?
I think it is excellent news about the state of Czech society, because a record number of people turned out to vote, and therefore they care about the direction the Czech Republic will take and who will be the head of state. At the same time, the majority of voters preferred decency and the truth to the really big dose of nastiness that appeared in Andrej Babiš's campaign - as well as a huge number of lies.
So what about the 2.4 million citizens who preferred Mr Babiš. What do you think of the fact that they are being referred to as people who have been won over by the lie?
I think that Petr Pavel, with his personality, will gradually convince them - and is already convincing them - that he is indeed a head of state of whom we can be proud. That does not mean that we cannot criticise him, that we cannot disagree with some of his views, that we cannot contradict him. That is natural, and that is part of democracy. But he is showing that he really cares about all citizens and does not see anyone as a loser. The only real loser is Andrej Babiš, and he has suffered a huge defeat, a huge debacle, and he has lost his third election in a row, and I think that his voters will gradually see for themselves that Petr Pavel is a good head of state.
I am more concerned about the message that humility and truth have won, so whether other voters will take something negative from this. I mean, they're being pointed at as believing a lie...
Not everything was a lie, but it was used very often. Unfortunately, Andrej Babiš was trying to appeal to extremist circles, because his supporters included Stalinists, such as Josef Skála. There are simply circles that you do not want to address yourself. But I believe that not all voters think this way, of course. They simply voted between two candidates and preferred one of them. However, the fact that the use of fear and lies has its limits has just been shown by the election result. There has never been such a significantly large difference between the two candidates, with the winner of the election receiving nearly a million more votes, a 16% difference. This simply exposed some of the style of the campaign that Andrej Babiš ran. This does not mean that we should not talk to his voters, that we should condemn them. I think that, on the contrary, there is simply a section of people who are more prone to believing various lies and misinformation, and that we must try all the more to reach out to them so as not to give them the feeling that they have lost.
I'll get to the campaign, but I'll ask you how you perceived the last minutes for both teams before it became clear who would win in the end.
I didn't compare it in that much detail at the time. I was a firm believer that Petr Pavel was going to win, and I have to say that I bow to his whole team for the way they handled the enormous pressure. They were exposed to a lot of absurdities, such as the news just before the elections that Petr Pavel had died, and they also faced cyber-attacks, for example. That, by the way, also shows who was actually the candidate they were betting on for that dangerous Russian environment.
So what about Mr Babiš's team? Mr Babiš arrived at his headquarters quite late and left after a short press conference.
He had already struck me as resigned in that last week, when he even blew off his contact campaign. In fact, he was just looking for a way to explain. I don't think he could be convinced that it was because of the threats, because I assume he had been threatened in this way before. Incidentally, it happens to other politicians quite often, unfortunately. That is not to excuse the threats themselves and those who send them, but I have the impression that it was rather a good excuse to allow him to end the campaign. Equally, he has already come across to me as, shall we say, slightly cramped, and he has also spoiled the debate on Czech television in a huge way by not standing up for our commitments to our allies. And caused a rather unpleasant international scandal. Incidentally, I addressed my counterpart in the Polish Parliament, Marshal Elżbieta Witek, to assure her that we do indeed honour our commitments and that such statements do not change that at all. I have to say that I could see from the response that she sent me afterwards that this was very much on their minds in the Polish Parliament as well and that it was really very unpleasant for them to hear.
Babiš also blamed it on marketing, is it really up to them?
The main responsibility should be taken by the one who gives direction to the whole thing. And that is the candidate himself. Andrej Babiš has tried to claim in his slogans that he is not afraid of anything, he is not afraid of the powerful and so on. And then he is scared of threats? I do not believe that. Not that I don't believe that he got them. He's contradicting himself. He also talked in interviews about dragging the Czech Republic into war and creating fear, so it wasn't all decided by one billboard. And he knows that very well, he just found a scapegoat.
Do you think you'll finally see him on the floor?
He might finally start going to work. He has the worst attendance record of anyone and sovereignly the most absences and the least work done, because as an MP he is the only one who is not on any committee in the House of Commons. When I then hear from the opposition, especially the ANO movement, that the government MPs or the government in general do not communicate with them, I would like to say, for the sake of clarification, that it is in the committees that the discussion takes place and it is in the committees that ministers come to defend their proposals. That is where the debate takes place, so if one of them actually wanted to lead it, the opportunity is there very regularly.
That's where you can put pressure on the government...
Yes, they could do what they promise the voters. Here it shows exactly that when Andrej Babiš is not in power, he resigns and does not work because he is so strong-willed. In opposition, he does not think it is important, and he despises his own voters, and hence he despises the functioning of our country and democracy as such, because even in opposition, you can do a lot of work for your voters and other citizens.
Babiš has said that he may quit politics, which will be seen at the meeting of the ANO presidium. At the same time, at the press conference after the elections, he said that if everyone had voted this way in the parliamentary elections, ANO would have been in government. How do you see this double signal, what will happen?
It's full of contradictions as it always is when he talks about something. For example, he has been vehemently saying all along that Petr Pavel is the government candidate. If I take his words seriously, I should actually say now that the government has a lot of support, 58% of the electorate, over 3,300,000 people. I don't think we're going to hear that from him.
He should know what to do with himself now, but I cannot imagine myself as leader of a party that loses elections three times in a row staying in my position. If it was in any other party, that party should hold its chairman to account. We'll see what happens.
Can you venture or speculate on who should replace him?
It is not for me to speculate on that. That is a question for the ANO movement, if they really want to solve this, they will certainly solve it themselves.
You have already mentioned the course of the campaign and the elections in general. Often, disinformation was spread, and you were part of one of those. Mr Babiš shared your "statement" where you gave him your support. He claimed he found it on the internet. How did you react to that?
With humour, because it was an absurd attempt to attract attention. I also replied with such hyperbole that we had not arranged it that way and that I would therefore direct my support to Mr Bašt, because it was still during the first round of the elections. I think that it has become apparent that the ANO movement, and Andrej Babiš and his marketers in particular, really do not hesitate to resort to anything, and that is what is dangerous about them, that they are neither consistent nor truthful. Nor do they have any boundaries in this respect. I think campaigns can be tough, but they have to honour some rules and fairness.
So would you be in favor of maybe even making some changes to the election law?
I think this is an issue that is not completely easy to legislate. Of course, there is already wording in it today that it should be conducted fairly. If we just look deeper into it, we find that that is already the case. However, where there is no prosecutor, there is no judge, and where there is no morality and some basics of decency, then perhaps it will continue. But for me, the important message is that people will not be swayed enough by this to rule in favour of whoever is using these practices. At least the majority.
Let's come to the last topic. You have already announced that the inauguration of the new president will take place on 9 March. How are you actually involved in that as President?
It is a joint meeting of the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate, convened by the Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies. The concept of inauguration is not actually in the law, it is the taking of the oath of office and the oath is taken in the hands of the President of the Senate. The joint meeting of the two chambers will take place on 9 March in the afternoon at Prague Castle in the Vladislav Hall, with the understanding that all the organisation has been going on for some time and that preparations have been very intensive. All these details are being worked out down to the last detail, including, for example, the pen with which the President will sign the oath of office.
So you also communicate with Mr Miloš Vystrčil as the President of the Senate about such small things as the pen or the type of flowers?
Not flowers at all, but the preparation concerns all the details. I provide the pen anyway. And because I see a certain symbolism in it, I am preparing something special!
BLESK.CZ, NIKOLA FOREJTOVÁ, 31. 1. 2023