You can tell something is wrong if you see a result like this not on the sports page of the newspaper but headlining the front pages as the results of the Czech regional electionsCzech Republic held elections in its 13 regions in October (except Prague which will hold elections in 2010). All regions were won decisively by one party..
So what is the anomaly behind this? Although I have stopped following the politics in my country, I was curious enough to do some reading that showed that apart from the expected factors favoring Social Democrats (who happen to be the winners) such as rising costs and an aggressive campaign to support worries about the economy, there was a lot of non-standard activities on both sides of the political spectrum that one would stereotypically associate with Italy (or, more recently, Russia).
Consider this example of the ‘fun’ the Czech voters are having when they try to decipher which party is more at home with mafia-style practices and underworld connections: An MP for the Civic Democratic Party Vlastimil Tlustý was photographed in a whirlpool with a model (in what was a staged situation), and the pictures were acquired by another MP from the same party, supposedly to blackmail Tlustý to stay in line with the party politics. In a more tragic incident, Social Democratic Chairman Jiří Paroubek had barely left the celebration of the launch of his new book where the son of the businessman Václav Kočka was shot dead at a point-blank range by entrepreneur Bohumír Ďuričko. (You will see these names again soon.)
This is where it gets complicated: There are old police reports linking Mr Tlusty and Mr Paroubek (of two opposing political parties) to a shady entrepreneur František Mrázek who was murdered in 2006. To round it off, another controversial police report is naming Václav Kočka as the suspect in the murder of Mrázek, and it also claims Ďuričko (a former agent for the communist state police) was an adviser to then-Prime Minister Paroubek. Needless to say, both politicians deny any such links.
If anyone makes this into a gripping book, which I believe does not require much fiction—in fact a strict adherence to facts would be better—I am a sure buyer. In the meantime, I hope the politicians can improve their image and serve this country in a way that makes us proud and not ashamed.