Final Word from Monday, December 16, 2002





Václav Klaus was clearly not very happy yesterday when Mirek Topolánek defeated his preferred candidate, Petr Nečas, to become ODS's new chairman. ODS reportedly wanted to choose someone as far away from Klaus as possible, to show that the party is truly changing. Klaus would logically want to have more influence over the choice of his successor, in part because this will affect his negotiating position in the presidential elections. If Klaus loses control of his party with just a month to go before the elections (which yesterday's vote suggests) he won't have much to offer in a deal with Miloš Zeman or Vladimír Špidla. This could be the bigger reason for Klaus' long face yesterday. Klaus has been the quintessential strategic thinker for the past decade. From his viewpoint, the election of Mirek Topolánek must look like the work of political amateurs.

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