The worst thing that can happen to politics happened to Jozef Síkel. People are making fun of the statements of the Minister of Industry on social networks. Most recently, because of the sentence that the Germans would willingly stop part of their industry so that there would be gas left over for Czech households as well.
In turn, energy experts openly mock him because he persistently uses the non-existent term “wind farm” instead of the commonly used “final farm” (it is the last source that enters the market and determines the final price of electricity).
But what is more serious: Síkela is losing the confidence of the coalition partners that he is even capable of solving the astronomical energy prices. And they express doubts whether the former banker – who was brought into the government by the Mayors – is aware of the magnitude of the problem.
The executive board of the ODS met on Monday evening and the KDU-ČSL presidency on Tuesday morning. Both party meetings had a single topic: What to do with expensive electricity and what to do with the incompetent Minister of Industry.
“Minister Síkela simply fell asleep. He should have convened a meeting of European energy ministers a long time ago,” said Lidovek MEP Tomáš Zdechovský. “We are not enthusiastic about the pressure from the Ministry of Industry. It is necessary to shift into a higher gear – take faster steps, improve communication,” thinks the head of the KDU-ČSL parliamentary club Marek Výborný.
What is Síkela up to? And can it work?
People also complain that Síkela does not communicate not only with the voters, but also with his own coalition partners. “Information should circulate in a timely manner,” Výborný criticizes Síkel. The head of the party, Marian Jurečka, has already been instructed several times by his colleagues to convey these criticisms to Prime Minister Petar Fial at a meeting.
He heard dissatisfaction with Jozef Síkela from his fellow party members at the ODS executive board on Monday. “As a person with experience in the real economy, I said there that no company can survive these electricity prices. Only energy companies will survive, but they will have no one to sell power to. And it seems to me that the minister is not aware of the urgency of the problem,” said Pavel Drobil, a member of the broader leadership of the ODS, a former minister of the environment and today an entrepreneur in the engineering industry.
Cuba is stirring up the government
“Let’s put a ceiling on energy prices. It’s more effective than an energy bonus.” A few days ago, Martin Kuba from the ODS, also the head of the Association of Regions of the Czech Republic, made this clear challenge to the government.
South Bohemian governor Martin Kuba from the ODS came out last week with an inflammatory statement demanding radical regulation of the market. “Minister Síkela fell asleep a bit. You could see it when we as governors came up with our proposal for a solution, and suddenly the ideas of the ministry were flying in the air, how quickly everything is solved. At the same time, even the governors from the STAN movement had no information that the minister was solving something,” said Kuba.
Purple vs. restless in the ODS
Things are starting to boil inside the governing parties. Their politicians seem to have only now understood that the energy crisis does not only threaten the poor fringes of society, who can only be helped with targeted benefits. But that a significant part of manufacturing companies and the middle class are at risk.
The otherwise restrained Miloš Vystrčil, chairman of the Senate from the ODS, also joined the criticism. “I am convinced that the entire crisis and its consequences should have been resolved more quickly. We have to improve. The Minister of Industry is not paying enough attention to this, communication cannot be underestimated,” Vystrčil complains.
Prime Minister and head of the ODS Petr Fiala has heard these reservations and, according to his colleagues, he is aware of the seriousness. But at the same time, he is concerned with maintaining the unity of the five-coalition government – and the dismissal of Jozef Síkela from the post of Minister of Industry is rejected by the Mayors who sent him to the government. They would only make their next personnel blunder more visible.
“I understand that in the complex situation surrounding energy, nervousness is rising among some politicians. But Minister Síkela is solving the situation. I see no reason for his dismissal. “He has done more for the energy security of this country in the last few months than any other minister since the Velvet Revolution”, says Vít Rakušan, chairman of the STAN movement and Minister of the Interior.
However, the people in the ODS explain to Petr Fial that it is not possible to defend Jozef Síkela indefinitely, because otherwise he will bring the entire government down with him. An influential member of the ODS, Minister of Justice Pavel Blažek, even declared that if the government does not solve the energy crisis, it will fall. And regardless of Síkela, he started looking for legal ways to regulate prices himself.
“It is proven that no democracy in human history has ever survived without a functioning economy. “Unfortunately, we are now facing a very dangerous development in that the economy can really stop working,” argued Blažek.
However, Minister Jozef Síkela saw the current situation of Czech companies optimistically even last week after the government meeting. “When we looked at the analysis of how many companies in some areas are in operating losses, and how significant, we were surprised that there aren’t that many of them,” he said.
However, under pressure from within the coalition, this week he denied his oft-repeated previous claims and admitted regulatory intervention in a dysfunctional market. The already mentioned meeting of European energy ministers, which he called for Friday, September 9, should bring a solution.
According to the government politicians interviewed, however, more is more likely than a mere replacement of the Minister of Industry. A smaller reconstruction of the government is expected. So that this resort goes to another party. Prime Minister Fiala’s current inspection tours of the ministries are not only formal visits, but also inspections – whoever does not fulfill the government’s plans is at risk.