Foreign Policy

Czechs and the City

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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.