Does Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev deserve our respect?
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In previous weeks, the SPD movement announced that you will lead a joint candidate for the municipality, i.e. the SPD movement, the Tricolor movement, Jiří Janeček’s PES movement, with the support of the Manifesto, the Zemanovci, the National Socialists and the DOST Action. What do you want to say to the voters with such a broad coalition?
The current five-coalition government had and has only one common theme – Antibabiš. We managed to put together a joint candidate of three political entities, with the support of four others, and in addition, well-known independent personalities on the candidate list. We have created a broad front of people who are not indifferent to the fact that he lost 1 million votes in the last election. In addition, we are united by national feelings, our relationship to our country, to our hometown, to our own families, we are responsible for the future of our children. We are eu-skeptics, we see the negatives of globalism and the dictates of Brussels, before which all other parties bow. We represent the only real national opposition that defends the sovereignty of our country and also in Europe wants to return to the model of cooperating, equal and sovereign countries.
You also presented a joint program with which you will compete for the favor of the people of Prague. What do you think are the main priorities for the next four years?
We want to take concrete steps to make it cheaper, but at the same time to improve the quality and efficiency of the lives of the people of Prague without unnecessary bureaucracy, without restrictions and regulations. The city operates with a budget of 100 billion crowns. Which means that over the past four years, including subsidies, the city has consumed almost half a trillion crowns. Has the life of the people of Prague improved, do they see any major changes for the better around them?
Energy is currently a topic that moves society, because people started getting bills with a several-fold increase in the breakdown of future advances. Your nationwide password promises to stop price gouging. But your critics accuse you of making an unrealistic promise from communal positions. So how do you want to do it?
We are absolutely clear on this matter – but we are the only party that precisely defines the necessary procedure. The way to make energy cheaper for citizens is for counties/cities to fully own energy companies, to buy energy directly from suppliers, cutting out the stock exchange, funds, lobbyists and others who would like to profit from ordinary people. Therefore, in Prague, we want to buy the remaining shares of Prague Energetika and Prague Waterworks and Sewage.
In earlier years, you were a member and chairman of the supervisory board of Pražská plynárenská. Why did you push for the purchase of Pražská plynárenská shares back into the city’s property? They say that a private person can take better care, but in the case of Pražská plynárenská, it can be seen that after years of being owned by the city, it fell into a loss.
This decision was absolutely correct, and the remaining shares of Pražská energetika and Pražské vodové och kanalizák must also be bought back. The technical infrastructure must be owned by the city! Only in this way can energy be cheaper for the people of Prague! Buy directly from suppliers and not siphon off hundreds of millions from each company as dividends to foreign owners. During my tenure as chairman of the supervisory board of Pražská plynárenská, together with the board of directors, we consolidated the entire company, advantageously purchasing most of the gas through contracts, and not on the spot market. We had enough gas for the winter season and generated a profit of over 1 billion crowns, which was used in the city budget to support city districts, schools and sports facilities. You have to ask the current management that Pražská plynárenská is now in loss and needs a loan from the city.
And that a private person manages better than the state or the city? This is only a myth that has been stuffed into people’s heads for the last 30 years, mostly by tunnelers. It depends on the management of the company, on the goals and assignments they have. How did the Arabs build their wealth on oil? By nationalizing the oil industry since the 1970s; the same applies to other mineral wealth and technical infrastructure.
In your CV, it will be interesting that you have experience in municipal politics from Great Britain. How did you get into British politics?
I lived in Great Britain from 1989, later joined Tony Blair’s New Labor and was a member of the MP’s election team. I was elected Political Officer in the local organization.
When you compare Czech and British politics, what is the biggest difference you see? It’s a long way from Tony Blair’s Labor to the SPD movement…
You might be surprised, but it’s not. Tony Blair then moved the Labor Party from the left to the centre. He appealed to the middle class, he had a new start in the program, a big change. He promoted the national interests of Great Britain, supported broad sections of the population and had support across the country. He improved education, took care of the elderly, invested in public transport, simplified the bureaucratic system, etc.
In connection with Great Britain, the topic of Brexit comes to mind. What is your opinion on this topic? Do you think the British did themselves a disservice?
I am of course a supporter of Brexit and I have defended it to everyone. The British are not interested in the Eurofederation, they are a proud nation and protect their rights and privileges. It was the right decision for Britain. Do you remember what dark scenarios were prophesied? Just when you thought the sun would go out over Britain. Everything is different. For the sake of interest, do you know that in Brussels more than 10,000 civil servants have a higher salary than the British Prime Minister? That after the withdrawal of Great Britain from the EU, instead of stating the fact that the budget must be increased by the English contribution, it was agreed that the other countries must match the amount…
If you look at the competition that is striving for the Prague municipality, who do you consider to be the biggest rival?
We are an authentic candidate with a clear and original program that has no competition. We are the only real opposition party that offers a clear and understandable alternative. In addition, it can be said that when we analyze the current parliamentary parties, all parties, except ANO, are more or less activist and progressive. The SPD has de facto become the new conservative party.
If you were to evaluate the work of the current municipality, what do you think went well, and what did not go well?
As I observe the reactions of people on the street and in interviews, the majority of people want fundamental change and rate the current management of the municipality as the worst in the last three election periods.
If you really became the mayor of Prague, what would be your first step?
It would be necessary to take several fundamental steps at once at the first meeting of the General Council. City of Prague:
Reduce the permanent charges of Prague residents to the level of 2018 before the current coalition increased their prices – rents in city apartments, property tax, dog fees, garbage collection fees, etc.
Authorize the PPAS Board of Directors to start negotiations on the direct purchase of gas from direct suppliers in order to conclude bilateral contracts outside the exchange.
Abolition of traffic restrictions and experiments limiting traffic – “slalom courses” in Štvanice and many other places, meaningless painted roundabouts, a forest of useless plastic green bollards, etc.
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author: Karel Excellent