When I spoke to Petr Gazdík three years ago, he was the STAN movement’s chairman and was just preparing for the communal elections in coalition with TOP 09. Today, he is the deputy chairman and is working with the Pirate party to prepare for the Chamber of Deputies election, which he will be entering from the second position on the ticket in the Zlín region.
Have you and the Pirates sorted out all the issues that will need to be discussed in case of success in the elections and the subsequent appointing of people to different positions in the government?
We have already presented our joint platform, me and Jakub Michálek were in charge of its preparation together. It includes exactly those points we agree on and want to put into force. Each party can work on enacting anything else not included in there beyond the coalition limits. But I want to point out – we absolutely agree on the essentials, such as how to start putting public finance back together. And that is apparent from our platform.
In case the elections go according to current polling, there may be no other way to reach the 101 seat majority than to join with the ODS, TOP 09, and KDU-ČSL coalition...
You got that right, there will not be many other ways. We are adamant on a coalition of democratic parties, not an alliance with business projects the likes of ANO, or extremist parties like SPD or KSČM. What matters, however, is how the voters decide and the power we end up with after the elections – I do not like forming coalitions and divvying up seats before elections even happen. Things are in the hands of us all, the voters.
Isn’t there a danger of more disagreements when five different parties come to a head?
No coalition government is without its issues. But discussion and disputes are a part of democracy. Only a dictatorship has a single set of correct opinions and solutions that are not up for debate.
Where do you see the biggest divide in terms of priorities and platform topics between your coalition and the aforementioned three-party one, and in what do you see common ground instead?
Both coalitions – the liberal Pirates and STAN as well as the conservative ODS and co. – have published their platforms so comparisons can be made. I can say that we have a better account of planned income and expenses in regard to future investments. But the ruling coalition’s platform is not the same as that of each individual party. We would have to simply agree on the steps to be taken during the first year of rule, then the following three years, and potentially what to prepare for beyond the extent of our mandate.
President Zeman, Prime Minister Babiš, Minister Hamáček, Pirate Chairman Bartoš – all of these are people that polarise our society, people have strong opinions about them. You have been in politics for quite some time, is this how things normally go, or is this sentiment growing stronger?
Do you know what is actually the most shocking thing to me? How the perception of politics has changed in just a few years. Can you imagine that ten years ago – mind you, I am not saying that things were all sunshine and rainbows back then – a minister would be facing accusations of millions of Crowns of unreported income as well as unregistered properties, and not step down immediately? Can you imagine that in the past a government would assign funding to private companies of its very own prime minister? Can you imagine the prime minister privatising the country while deputy ministers are supposed to be solving the issues of his private company? But we got used to it. I see the fact that people have not only stopped being bothered by it but have outright stopped paying attention to it as an immense danger to the entire ethos of our society. Theft will always be theft – and we have to know to call a spade a spade.
You are a Member of Parliament, a regional representative, and you were a mayor. Thus you know how things are done on many different levels. Do you think that the relationship between the state, regions, and municipalities is set up the optimal way?
Of course not. That is why we have been calling for (and have now included in our platform) “decision-making closer to the people”. Municipalities and regions should have more power, and should work on issues they know how to solve better than the government thanks to their local knowledge. The state should be lean, but strong in those issues the regions cannot take care of themselves – safety, defense, foreign politics, etc. We have been saying this for years, and nothing has changed.
We are going through a tumultuous period – there are things still going on with the coronavirus, the Vrbětice affair, the preparation for the elections... Have you ever experienced such trying times? How do you best recharge physically and mentally?
Things are very difficult now, and I am expecting one of the toughest campaigns of my life. I have rest figured out – home amid my family, in my town, my birth region, in my cabin at the foot of the White Carpathians. That is where I always recharge the best.
Will your summer be full of campaign rallies or do you have plans for a vacation?
I will definitely take some vacation, but the campaign will be my main focus.
Your hometown of Suchá Loz is just a stone’s throw away from the Slovakian border. Did you go there often or do you have other favorite places?
I do like going to Slovakia now and then, but it was just not possible recently. Normally, I like going to Austria, Italy, as well as on a seaside vacation if at all possible.
In the folk costume of his home region Slovácko.
Petr Gazdík (born June 26, 1974, in Uherské Hradiště) is an M.P. for the STAN movement as well as its deputy chairman, representative of the Zlín region, and councilman of the Suchá Loz municipality.
After finishing his studies in teaching and general-education subjects (mathematics and geography) at the Faculty of Education of the Masaryk University, he worked as a teacher for six years at the Josef Bublík elementary school in Bánov, starting in 1996.
He has been a councilman of the Suchá Loz municipality since 2002 and was its mayor for eight of those years. In 2008, he was elected as the Zlín region’s representative. He has been an M.P. since the 2010 elections.
He also worked as the chairman of the Czech National UNESCO Committee and has been the chairman of the LAG (local action group) Východní Slovácko since 2005. In 2008, he received the Cena Přístav award from the Czech Council of Children and Youth for his support of extracurricular activities for children and youth. He is a longtime member of the Boy Scouts and has established a Boy Scouts facility in which he was formerly the leader and is now an instructor.