Final Word from Tuesday, September 24, 2002





Vladimír Špidla set himself apart by building an image of an honest, level-headed, no-nonsense team player who was able to eliminate much of what was bad in the previous administrations. His initial handling of the floods reinforced this image. But after the recent government crisis, everything's different. He's being attacked from all sides as having overreacted, for losing his nerve, for failing to communicate and for abusing his position to achieve ideological goals. He's been knocked from his pedestal. But one big question remains. Špidla might not be infallible, he might not be so cool-headed, and he might not be so much of a political chess player, but isn't he at least still honest? So far his integrity hasn't been seriously challenged. But he's no longer likely to get the benefit of the doubt. Soon after the elections, the ever-dour Špidla learned to put on a false smile. Can that smile and the man behind it still be trusted?

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