You announced your intention to run against Ivan Bartoš in January after the Pirates voted by a narrow majority to expel Jakub Michálek from the broader leadership of the party. How long have you been thinking about running for office?
We’re talking about the order of a few months when I’ve been toying with this idea. This was the last push where I felt that in some aspects the Pirate Party felt stepped on. One of my main goals is therefore to be able to get back to the important year 2024 for us.
I don’t know if I could have led the party better. But we should focus on other things, mainly on communication with the regions, says Rudolf Špoták
But at the end of June, in an interview with the daily Právo, you said that you are not considering a candidacy for party chairman. So what happened in the last four months that made you think differently?
In particular, I felt that information from the top level of the Pirate Party was not trickling down to the members, to the individual regions. As governor, I criticized the government for some things. Some members then started to turn to me and the question was asked if I would like to try to take over the reins of the Czech Pirate Party.
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According to an April survey by the STEM agency, almost four fifths of the residents of the Pilsen region did not know who their governor was. Half a year ago, only 20% of the residents of the Pilsen Region knew you. This is the worst result of all governors in the entire republic. Is your candidacy not an effort to become better known?
I do not think so. The results of the governors in the Czech Republic were surprising to me. It shows that it is very difficult for citizens to understand what the region manages and does. However, unlike my colleagues, I had a year and a half to become aware of my handicap, because I did not start my position until February 2022.
Did you consult Ivan Bartoš with Ivan Bartoš about your thoughts about running for president of the Pirate Party, or did Mr. Bartoš only find out about it from social networks and the media?
I wouldn’t call it a consultation, but I told him a few weeks ago that I was thinking about it and that if it happened, I would let him know so that he would be prepared for the news from the media space. And that happened yesterday too.
Cooperation with regions
When you decided to run for president of the Pirates, does that mean you think you could lead the Pirates Party better than Ivan Bartoš?
I don’t think better. I think we should focus on other things, i.e. cooperation with the regions, which has a downward trend since 2021. That is actually logical, because in the last election period we had at least one member of parliament in each region.
Today we have four members of parliament from three regions, one of them a minister, one deputy speaker of the chamber. I understand that it is very complicated. However, due to lack of information and frustration of rank-and-file members, things can arise, such as the aforementioned proposed dismissal of Jakub Michálek from the Republican Committee.
“I think I could connect the regions more”
But only time would tell if I would be a better chairman. But I think that I would be able to connect the regions more than it is now. I would like to improve the communication channel with the regions and with the ordinary members. For me, we have a lot of work ahead of us in this.
If you were the chairman, would you want Jakub Michálek to remain in charge of the Pirates?
I think that Jakub Michálek would be the biggest loss in the position he is in, which is the chairman of the parliamentary club. Anyway, I always had a good relationship with Jakub Michálek.
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We had strong opinions on some things, but I always liked his incredible hard work and directness. If it were purely up to me and I could choose, I can imagine that he could be a member of the Republican Presidency. But it is a matter of party-wide elections and the majority of members decide.
How specifically would you like to improve communication between the center and the regions?
It should certainly be based on more frequent personal meetings. Communicating the steps of the government sometimes seems incomprehensible to the members.
On the other hand, in my opinion, almost all ministers have a problem with explaining the steps and with the government’s communication to the public, and we at the regional level encounter this on a daily basis. So it would be good to know what is happening, where the Pirate Party wants to go, and part of that should be the greater professionalization of the entire team.
Chairman and governor?
You announced that if you were the president of the Pirates, you would also like to remain the governor. Wouldn’t it be better to have a full-time chairman?
It cannot be full-time, as it is an unpaid position within the Pirate Party. In addition, almost all parties have presidents who also have other full-time jobs in public office, whether they are prime minister, minister or member of parliament. So I don’t think it’s a thing that is outright harmful. In my opinion, the governor’s position is no different in this regard.
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You have a position not only in the management of the Pilsen Region, but also within the Football Association. Since last year, you have been the chairman of the commission of referees for lower competitions in the territory of the Czech Republic, i.e. for the Czech Football League, for regional championships and for lower competitions. Would you also keep this position as Pirates chairman?
It is a feature that is not honored. But it takes some time, so if I were the chairman and the governor at the same time, there would be a sword of Damocles hanging over this position. But I would definitely deal with it initially with Petr Fousek and the executive committee, rather than putting it in the media.
By the way, you were a referee yourself, in the era of Roman Berber. You worked in his home region of Pilsen. Isn’t it a handicap for a top political career?
I do not know. I know many politicians from Prague who worked in the city where Ivo Rittig worked. Many of them are honest and fair people. I met Roman Berber as the chairman of the regional football association.
When I managed the third and fourth leagues, he was its boss. He was also one of the reasons why I ended my refereeing career at this level in 2009, because I did not agree with his approach to football management.
How good a servant is the pirate forum party? And should the Pirates leave the government? Listen to the full interview in the recording above.
Tomáš Pancíř, brother
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