Press Advisories

7. 5. 2009 16:12

Interview with Prime Minister Jan Fischer

Jan Fischer, premiér letní překlenovací vlády / Jan Fischer, Prime Minister of caretaker government
Jan Fischer, premiér letní překlenovací vlády / Jan Fischer, Prime Minister of caretaker government
The Prime Minister of the Czech caretaker government which will take the country through the summer to the autumn parliamentary elections has given an interview for the government web.

He answered questions concerning his working style, his views, and his ideas regarding the functioning of the government.

You say that you are a team player. What exactly is your understanding of team play, how does such cooperation work?

My understanding of the concept of team play is the same as the meaning which is usually ascribed to it. All team members have their respective, specific tasks, but also the right to express their opinion concerning all issues discussed by the team. No view is forbidden. But then of course the moment comes when the votes are counted and a decision has to be made. – in this respect government work is very much team-based, because in keeping with the Constitution, government decisions are collective. An individualist who is accustomed to have his own way at all costs would find it very difficult to work in such team.

Do you think that your new colleagues in the government will be able to operate as a team not only in the government as a whole but also within the departments in their charge?

I believe they will. As far as the limited time available for my meetings with the individual candidates allowed me, I tried to assess this of their qualities, too.

In the capacity of Chairman of the Central Statistical Office, you have been participating in government deliberations for many years. Will the government change its style of work under your leadership, or will it work in very much the same way as it did under your predecessors?

I do not envisage any essential changes. When seeing what sometimes takes place in the House of Deputies, people may think that government debates are just as heated. But they are not, the government thinks and acts as a much more compact team, and therefore its discussions rarely come to a head. I am sure that in this respect things will not change. But it is clear that when it comes to the fulfilment of some tasks, the fact that it is apolitical may put the caretaker government at a disadvantage. The deliberations of a standard post-election government, composed of leaders of coalition parties, can of course be more dynamic and it may be easier to reach a consensus “right on the spot”.

Does it mean that you will have to consult more issues with political parties beforehand, and do it more frequently? Are you not afraid that your government might end up being managed by party secretariats?

Yes, we will hold more consultations, and no, the government will not be managed by political parties. The caretaker government will mostly deal with non-political issues, and politicians thus will not be interested in standing behind our backs and pulling strings. But wherever the standpoints of political parties may differ, for instance regarding the basic parameters of the state budget for the coming year, we of course have to consult the parties – it will be their budget, after all. I do no ask you which party has your sympathies, but you definitely have some personal political preferences. Do they tend towards the left, or to the right? The advantage of civil servants is that they not only do not have to, but even must not project their personal political opinions into their work – if I had such ambitions, I would not be a civil servant but a politician. But to satisfy your curiosity at least partly – let me tell you that my life attitudes are quite moderate and conservative.

What is your view of the Lisbon Treaty?

I see the Lisbon Treaty as a result of a long-term search for the best possible institutional setup of the European Union. Though it was designed as a legal instrument, it is very much a political document, too, the outcome of a political debate, ratified in the member countries, including the Czech Republic, through a political process. The ratification process is under way, which is no doubt positive. Personally I take the Lisbon Treaty as a reality; perhaps it would be useful to look ahead, but that is no longer the story of this government. We should learn to live with the Treaty, adapt to it our foreign policy, our attitude to the European Union, the new arrangement – in short, this is an early adaptation period.

Which of the government bills that are now in parliament do you regard as most important?

No doubt those which react in one way or another to the economic crisis. When I look at their list through my biased eyes of a statistician, I would be of course glad if the current parliament managed to discuss before its dissolution the bill on the 2011 census, drafted by the Central Statistical Office. If we had to start afresh after the formation of new parliament, the preparation of this otherwise routine event might be greatly delayed..

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