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CHANGE as a chance for a modern civic-ecological politics

An interview with Jan Korytář, Chairman of the ZMĚNA (CHANGE) political party, former mayor and representative of the Statutory City of Liberec

„The Czech political system is not badly setup, however it suffered from the fact it was taken over to a certain degree by not quite psychologically mature alpha-males, who compensate their own problems with through political power. That’s one of the reasons why Change has 50% women on  their list of candidates.“



          Jan Korytář, Chairman of the ZMĚNA
The upcoming early elections bring into the game politicial entities that are a bit fast-cooked from the communal level, or even brand new. What chance of success do they have? What are their goals and strategies? And how can they even address voters disappointed by the current political chaos in the country? We spoke to Jan Korytář, who stood behind the birth of a new initiative carrying the self-evident name „Change.“

Why did you co-founded a new political party after you left the Green Party in 2012?

After eight years in the Green Party, when there were three times I was unsuccessfully proposed for expulsion, I went through several functions in the party. I was a member of the board, member of the republic council and a regional chairman. And that was perhaps the main reason I decided to quit. 

Could you be more specific?

I no longer want to invest 90% of my energy into dealing with party function nonsense and worrying before elections whether I will even be able to become a Green Party candidate. I also perceived that, in the Czech Republic, just as in Germany, the modern civic-green initiative has the potential of 10 – 20% of votes. Unfortunately, the Green Party, for various reasons, cannot manage to use this potential. In any case, I didn’t go into politics to sit in meetings, but because of a need to change things and do them differently then party-like. That’s how Change was born.

Could you be more specific?

I no longer want to invest 90% of my energy into dealing with party function nonsense and worrying before elections whether I will even be able to become a Green Party candidate. I also perceived that, in the Czech Republic, just as in Germany, the modern civic-green initiative has the potential of 10 – 20% of votes. Unfortunately, the Green Party, for various reasons, cannot manage to use this potential. In any case, I didn’t go into politics to sit in meetings, but because of a need to change things and do them differently then party-like. That’s how Change was born.

„We are the change we’re waiting for“ – what exactly is the vote supposed to imagine under this motto?

It’s the understanding behind our current and, I believe, future successes. It’s totally logical. I realized that waiting for other politicians to change what I want changed is not a good strategy. It was the reason that lead me to become a politician. And ever since, I’m convincing others, who promote a long-term public interest, to go into it as well. Surprisingly, there are more and more of us. That’s the key change from expecting that „someone will change it“ to „we will change it.“

In what in Change was truly new?

In Many things. First, we are a financially independent project, in which we initially financed ourselves.. We don’t intend to become indebted to anyone for funds. We were founded bottom up, not like some business oriented projects, where money is the main factor. We select the individuals who become our candidates very well and put aa key emphasis on the selection of people. And, last but not least, for example we learned that instead of presenting personal opinions on various issues, we prefer to look for solutions. I’m convinced that, in politics, it’s entirely possible to avoid partisanism and, instead, come to a consensus.

Can you extrapolate on how you managed to succeed in communal politics, meaning primarily as the Change movement for the Liberec region?

We’re a young movement and politics is a long-distance run. In Liberec, it’s awe already successfully overcame the power of the local ODS (Civic Democratic Party) that left behind 2 billion in debts. We managed to terminate some unbeneficial contracts. On the regional level, there is a quite an unusal situation where the coalition is created by the Mayors and Change, while the Civic Democrats, Social Democrats, as well as the Communists are in oposition. And finally, we were able to push through a large number of specific changes.

Can you specify?

We managed to make certain orders cheaper, provide leadership of regional hospitals with apolitical managers, push subsidies for mothers‘ centers and many other individual issues. The key thing is that we showed people that it’s possible to overcome the power of those who created a corrupt octopus. Unfortunately, as yet, we we haven’t been able to get rid of them entirely.

What kind of a program does Change bring to the early elections?

We will be creating the program, but given the early election, it’s all really fast. However, the main thing we offer people is not a program.

How do you intend to convince voters, then?

Thanks to the communal experience, we have a candidate list of notable individuals. The voters in the regions know them and know that these are people who defended and promoted public interests over the long-term. Instead of an ideologically concieved program, we bet on the knowledge of the methods through which it’s possible to find the best solutions. In such a changing world, each problem is influenced by many variants. It seems to me that it’s better to know the way to find the best answers to various questions, than have them answerd ahead, prepared in an election program.

Will you also strive to promote the direct vote of mayors and parliamentary deputies? In your opinion, what are the chances for such a change to be pushed through within the current electoral system? And do you think it’s the correct solution?

I personally promote it, but we haven’t had the discussion within Change yet. To be honest, this will be in the course of action after the 2017 elections, unless there will be some early elections prior to that.

How do you view the current political system? Where do you see its main weaknesses? Do you think that it’s enough to push for the change of the Election Act and the State Service Act, or is it necessary to do a radical revolution within the entire system?

The Czech political system is not badly set up, however it suffered from the fact it was taken over to a certain degree by not quite psychologically mature alpha-males, who compensate for their own problems through political power. That’s one of the reasons why Change has 50% women on  their lists of candidates. Each organization needs two things, each of which can’t function on its own. First, it’s a sort of a management system, but it just as much depends on the people who sustain and develop the system. And I think that’s the main problem of Czech politics. For this reason, I try to get truly quality people for Change; able, daring and balanced individuals who can be the hope for more than just a cosmetic change.

Green politics are rather unpopular in our country, how do you explain this? Where do you think the Green Party made its critical mistake in promoting green issues? In this regard, does Change bring some green themes?

I’m a „green“ politician. I studied the protection and creation of the environment, spent 18 years running an environmental non-profit organization, so Change always has plenty of green content. But it’s not so much about who is promoting them and whether they are only green issues or the scope is wider. The Green Party has many problems – I think that one of them is that, in the beginning, it was founded on a not entirely sound basis. Additionally, it doesn’t lack for people who don’t entirely understand the art of politics and became entirely discredited in Mirek Topolánek’s government. With all this, it’s really difficult to promote green issues. That was another reason why Change was born, as a chance for a modern civic-green politics.


Source:
 Leaders Magazine - www.leadersmagazine.cz (Pavlína Holancová)

 
 
 
 
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