A couple of weeks ago I bet some friends that Stanislav Gross would be out of office by the end of February. I was wrong, and so will be buying beers at a date and place soon to be named.

I’m still surprised that Gross has managed so far to save his own skin, but am convinced that his already razor-thin mandate (one vote, fer chrissake) is irreparably weakened.

On the way to Berlin, I had the pleasure of reading Erik Tabery’s column in Respekt on the matter, called “Notes from the Demolition of the State” (unfortunately, it’s behind their subscription mechanism now, but here’s the link anyway). I started to translate it, but events seem to have accelerated the column’s expiration date.

Tabery had three main points about the situation.

First, if there was anything good to be had from the affair, it is that leaders of all parties will not be able to get away with such brazen corruption as they have done in the past; the media and the opposition are doing a good enough job of being a watchdog.

Second, the electoral system, with its patchwork of small parties and reliance on coalitions, is doing exactly what it should. Tabery pointed out that if the Social Democrats (or even the ODS for that matter) held a clear majority, scandals like this would be definitely swept under the rug. Klaus’ timing in calling for electoral reform couldn’t be worse, Tabery writes.

Third, even if Gross succeeds in holding on to power until parliamentary elections, opposition mishandling of the situation will only result in one thing: the Communists are closer than ever to power.

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