The Fight to Save Liberal Democracy Begins Here

By Downey, J. | The New Presence: The Prague Journal of Central European Affairs, Winter 2009 | Go to article overview
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The Fight to Save Liberal Democracy Begins Here


Downey, J., The New Presence: The Prague Journal of Central European Affairs


The battle lines have been drawn again in the Lisbon debate and we can now see them with a clarity denied to us before the June fiasco, when the "No" campaigners befuddled so many voters with their garbage about sovereignty, abortion and the detention of three-year-old children.

Nothing less faces us--and Europe--than a choice between liberal democracy and the unholy alliance between the "economic right" and the fundamentalists. The alliance is more than a little reminiscent of the Republican line-up in the American presidential election.

The fundamentalists may be daft, but that does not make them any less dangerous. They have voting power. They used it before and will use it again. At least we all know who they are. To identify, much less describe, the real leaders is harder, but Vaclav Klaus's visit gave us a clue because it prompted us to look at his record.

The story goes that in 1989, shortly after the Velvet Revolution in the then Czechoslovakia, Vaclav Havel and the lads were sitting around in a smoke-filled room wondering what they should do with their freedom now that they had it. A man of undistinguished appearance entered the room. He said: "I am Dr. Vaclav Klaus. You don't know me but you'll need me."

Wikipedia gives a less colourful version. Dr. Klaus, it says, made up one of a "bunch" of economists who went to see Havel and gave him a similar message: Th at the country's economic future lay in the implementation of what were then called "Thatcherite" policies.

One way or the other, Dr Klaus took charge of the economy and implemented policies which would have horrified Margaret Thatcher.

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