Foreign Policy

Czechs and the City


And alert reader points out another thing the Czech Republic's Two Vaclavs have in common?they both like young ladies not named their wives! Of course, that makes them little different from any other Czech male politicians. From The Times of London last month:

When the Czech President confessed that he was having an affair with an airline stewardess less than half his age, most of the country shrugged. Indeed, the nation's biggest newspaper said most people would be impressed and regard him as "a real man".

After all, this was the third time that Václav Klaus, 66, had run off with a young, blonde flight attendant behind his wife's back. Nor was his behaviour out of keeping with other senior politicians. Mirek Topolánek, 51, the Prime Minister, has had a baby son with his 40-year-old girlfriend Lucie Talmanová and moved in with her, even though his wife is refusing to divorce. The leader of the opposition, Jirí Paroubek, 55, is not ideally placed to moralise since he, too, has left his wife and recently married his 34-year-old girlfriend Petra Kovácová, who was his personal translator on foreign trips.

Against this background, the President's latest infidelity has barely raised an eyebrow. His first indiscretion with a blonde stewardess—Eva Svobodová—was in 1991, when he was a rising political star of post-Communist Czechoslovakia. The second time was in 2002, this time with Klára Lohniská, 24, who worked on his official aircraft. Mr Klaus was philosophical: "If a man crosses the street on a red light, then he must be prepared to slip or be run over by a car," he said. The morning after winning re-election last month, he was photographed with Petra Bednárová, 25, also a stewardess on the government aircraft, outside a hotel in Prague. He admitted the affair this week and confessed that it would be difficult to explain to his wife, Livia.

NEXT: "This is not the Scott we knew"

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  1. Of course, that makes them little different from any other Czech male politicians.


  2. confessed that it would be difficult to explain to his wife, Livia.

    Why? Its not like he doesn’t have any practice.

  3. I see a pattern here. So if I move to the Czech Republic and run for office, I get hot 20 something girlfriends? Frickin’ sweet country!!!

  4. Look, you two.

    You’d better Czech yourselves before you wreck yourselves.

    Cuz bimbo eruptions ain’t good for your health.

  5. OT, but they’re starting to release polling with Barr in the race.

  6. You know, normally when I read a Reason article or blog entry that doesn’t seem the slightest bit important or interesting I just shrug and move on. But this one really pegged my “who the f*ck cares?” meter.

    Just sayin’.

  7. Yeah, RC, I think Livia and her dog would have that routine down by now.

  8. Bill Clinton must be so pissed right now.

  9. There’s a saying in Czech, “Every man is available.”

    The personal morality of politicians is non-issue for the vast majority of Czechs. Not only was Havel an infamous womanizer, but he was not exactly a teetotaler.

  10. I think I know where I want to go on leave if I EVER freaking finally get deployed! Well, there and Hungary.

    Perhaps the Czechs are a bit closer to the Montag Marriage Amendment than we USAians are? I dream it is so.

  11. I see where you’re coming from, Joel. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

  12. Matt,

    Did that title write itself or did you delegate it to one of your fine assistants?

  13. “doesn’t seem the slightest bit important or interesting”

    Come on. There’s nothing like deep social tolerance of the act of breach of a solemn personal contract to reassure libertarians that liberty and underlying principles are on the rise.

  14. It’s so cool that mch has attended the weddings and witnessed the vows of so many Czech leaders.

  15. Yep, time to start learning to speak Czech.

  16. I studied abroad in Prague last summer and all I have to say is that Czechs make Italians look chaste by comparison.

  17. I studied abroad in Prague last summer

    I should add or two.

  18. Ha, yeah, good point, mch.

    Unlike Joel, I think it was a worthwhile cultural post. For as sad as the state of women’s interests are in the United States, they are even less respected elsewhere! At least here in the United States people make an insincere attempt to appear contrite for breaching a sacred vow. They don’t even bother with that charade over there. I find it really sickening, to be honest.

  19. the crossing the street on a red light quote pissed me off. The issue isn’t that he risked getting caught by doing it so he got what’s coming to him, the issue is that he betrayed his wife. It doesn’t matter to me what the Czech people think of it, but it does matter what she thinks of it.

  20. We should let them borrow Newt Gingrich. He will shut down their parliament, spend $60 million, and expose the corrupt sexual mores of their politicians. Then he will teach them how you divorce your dying wife in order to marry a bimbo.

  21. I can tell you one thing about Havel and Klaus:

    They’re two wild and crazy guys!

  22. Perhaps some Czech women expect less fidelity from their husbands than do American women generally.
    I don’t know this to be the case, just am offering it as an alternative to those crying “betrayal!” and “sacred vow!” and “solemn personal contract!” as if they have some inside knowledge of the situation.

  23. If Poland’s President Lech Kaczy?ski is discovered to be having an affair and it hurts his career, can we look forward to a headline reading “Pole Falters”?

  24. Last month’s tabloid news from lands far away? What is this the purpose of posting this on the “free minds and free markets” magazine’s site? Are you *trying* to make Reason irrelevant?

  25. Not that there’s anything wrong with Mike, either.

  26. When Czechoslovakia was still a single country, I voted for a political party called “The Independent Erotic Initiative” in the federal elections. This party didn’t get over the 5% threshold necessary to get into the Parliament, but did remarkably well. Its platform was to liberalize sex-related legislation (including already weak public nudity prohibitions) in the country.

    As for infidelity and the Czechs, it goes back to their very basic mentality: they are one of the most pragmatic people you’ll ever meet. They rarely look back (a common saying goes something like “What happened, happened. Now [insert current situation].”). In their view, it is not cheating when your partner knows about it, given that cheating is defined as something that takes place behind the partner’s back. Given this pragmatic attitude by both partners, it’s not surprising you don’t get too much outrage. Mr. Klaus’ situation may be slightly different, though: his wife is ethnic Slovak, and we tend to be a little more moralistic.

  27. Are you *trying* to make Reason irrelevant?

    Takes more than a single blog post! And I dunno, I’m fascinated by how different countries treat this question so differently.

    When Bill Clinton went to Prague in January ’94 our newspaper had a fun box talking about all their humorous similarities and differences, many of them having to do with the fact that Czechs just don’t care much about alleged personal transgressions and weirdness. So: Havel actually inhaled, no one bothered him about blowjobs & infidelities, and he liked to write long, contemplative passages about the “honor” of suicide; all stuff you couldn’t really imagine with a U.S. president, no matter how much he might partake himself.

  28. Matt, I take it you won’t be at Klaus dinner tonight.

    The difference between Clinton and Klaus/Havel is that with the latter, their personal “idiosyncrasies” were never hidden.

    It should be noted as well that the Czech president isn’t directly elected, which makes it far easier to be eccentric. They also have very little power, which make their actions have less consequence.

  29. personal translator on foreign trips.

    “Personal translator”… I like that.

  30. he liked to write long, contemplative passages about the “honor” of suicide

    I wish our current crop of Presidents and presidential candidates would see suicide as “honorable”.

  31. Actually, one of the Vaclavs has been up to more politically germane things than banging blondes…

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