Flaws in the Czech political culture
Jiří Zatloukal, a business journalist with the Czech weekly magazine TYDEN (The Week), has written a research paper on recent negative developments in Czech political culture and in Czech journalistic practice. In his paper, ‘Flaws in the Czech political culture’, Jiri outlines examples of gross misconduct and corruption, which he says characterize the behaviour of certain political and business elites.
He lays out a clear argument that the main reason behind their misconduct is the lack of an appropriate legal framework which could prevent it. As Jiri writes, ‘What is most needed is the implementation of bills on transparent financing of political parties, the advertising of public contracts on the internet or the establishment of an independent public administration. It seems clear that if such a framework is not established, the future development of the country will be harmed as business and political interests increase their control.
The Czech media have recently been allied to politics and business much more closely than before. The financial crisis in 2008 started a vast transformation of the media landscape. We have seen a huge slump in the advertising market mixed with a progressive increase of internet readership. These factors contributed to a decline in circulation and in profits especially in the newspaper market. The most turbulent year came in 2013 when three big media companies were sold. The new owners are all Czech tycoons including Mr. Babiš, currently the Minister of Finance and a member of the ruling coalition. This poses a huge risk to bot h the impartiality of the media and the freedom of the press in the country.