Who’s Who In The New Czech Cabinet?
Prime Minister Petr Fiala’s five-party coalition was finally sworn in by President Zeman on Friday. Brno Daily takes a look at the composition of the new government. Credit: vlada.cz.
The Czech Republic finally has a new government, two months after elections. Petr Fiala (ODS) is the new prime minister and the era of Babis is over (as Prime Minister, at least). The new government is constituted of a record five parties, which together made up the so-called SPOLU and PirSTAN electoral alliances organised for the elections.
As a result, the members of the new cabinet are a diverse bunch, with six from the conservative ODS (including Fiala), three from the Christian Democrats, and two from liberal-conservative TOP 09, meaning 11 in total from SPOLU. The remainder are four from the regionalist STAN group, and three from the Pirate Party. The new cabinet includes 15 men and 3 women. 11 of the 18 incoming Ministers completed their university education in Brno.
Petr Fiala (Prime Minister, SPOLU / ODS)
A graduate, faculty member, and former rector of Brno’s Masaryk University (MUNI), Fiala was also the Minister of Education in the Cabinet of the last ODS Prime Minister, Petr Necas, from 2012 to 2013. Leader of ODS since 2014, Fiala is a staunch conservative, but characterises himself as moderate and pragmatic. As a political scientist, he has written widely on political systems, political extremism and European issues.
Zbyněk Stanjura (Minister of Finance, SPOLU / ODS)
The new Finance Minister is another ODS veteran of Petr Necas’s government, reflecting ODS’s intentions to assert control of the budget following sharp criticism of Babis’s spending plans. Stanjura, who cut his teeth in politics locally in his native Opava, studied Electrical Engineering at Brno University of Technology, and was first elected to the Chamber of Deputies in 2010, before serving a six-month stint as Minister of Transport in early 2013.
Marian Jurečka (Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Labour and Social Affairs, SPOLU / KDU-CSL)
The leader of the Christian Democrat Union, known informally in Czech as lidovci, will have a dual role as Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Labour and Social Affairs. Mendel University graduate Jurečka has been an MP since 2013 and leader of lidovci since January 2020, and also has ministerial experience, serving as Agriculture Minister from 2014 to 2017 in Bohuslav Sobotka’s Cabinet. As a staunch Catholic, Jurečka clashed with other constituent parties of the new coalition on the campaign trail over his views on same-sex marriage, which could be an early indicator of coming faultlines inside the government.
Vít Rakušan (Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior, PirSTAN / STAN)
Rakušan has been the leader of the Mayors and Independents (STAN) movement since 2019, and an MP since 2017. A former Mayor of Kolin from 2010 to 2019, he was also a member of the Central Bohemian Regional Assembly until October. Rakušan received over 60,000 preference votes in this year’s elections, more than any other candidate, and has also been the subject of speculation about a presidential bid.
Ivan Bartoš (Deputy Prime Minister for Digitalisation and Minister of Regional Development, PirSTAN / Pirate Party)
Database engineer Bartoš has been leader of the Pirate Party since 2016, and takes over the ministry he was scrutinising as Chair of the Public Administration and Regional Development Committee in the previous parliamentary term, as well as taking a role in the Pirate Party’s key specialist area of digitalisation. A graduate of Charles University, Bartoš is known for hobbies somewhat atypical for Czech politicians, such as DJing psytrance and singing in a punk band. He is also one of few high-profile Czech politicians to express support for asylum seekers being welcomed to the Czech Republic.
Vlastimil Válek (Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Health, SPOLU / TOP 09)
The new government’s choice for the critical role of Minister of Health, with responsibility for the management of the Covid-19 pandemic, is TOP 09’s Vlastimil Válek, a Brno-born and MUNI-educated radiologist who has spent most of his career at Brno University Hospital in Bohunice. Válek is the Deputy Leader of the party, and takes the Deputy Prime Minister role after leader Markéta Pekarová Adamová was elected Speaker.
Jana Černochová (Minister of Defence, SPOLU / ODS)
Černochová is a former ODS Mayor of Prague 2, and has been an MP since 2010. A graduate of the Prague Metropolitan University, she was also Chair of the Chamber of Deputies Defence Committee until the elections in October. Like Fiala, she is hawkish on foreign policy issues, and once addressed an event organised by the Islám v České republice nechceme (“We Don’t Want Islam In the Czech Republic”) group.
Martin Kupka (Minister of Transport, SPOLU / ODS)
Kupka graduated in Journalism from Charles University, and is a former employee of Cesky Rozhlas. The Mayor of Líbeznice in Central Bohemia since 2010, he has held a number of positions within government and ODS, including as spokesman for the Ministry he is now taking over.
Jan Lipavský (Minister of Foreign Affairs, PirSTAN / Pirate Party)
Lipavský was a Pirate Party MP from 2017 until 2021, but lost his seat in the October elections. Nonetheless, he was nominated to be Foreign Minister, despite initial reports that President Zeman disagreed with his selection. After discussions with Fiala, Zeman dropped his opposition. Lipavský is noted for his hawkish positions on China and Russia, and advocates a firmer Czech foreign policy stance towards these countries. During the uncertainty about Zeman’s approval of the new foreign minister, former presidential candidate Karel Schwarzenberg described Lipavský as “one of the best politicians of his generation”.
Zdeněk Nekula (Minister of Agriculture, SPOLU / KDU-CSL)
Lidovci have again taken control of the Agriculture Ministry, a key target for the party due to their support base among rural farmers. A long-term Mayor of the village of Těšetice, near Znojmo, Nekula was educated at the Brno Agricultural University, the precursor to Mendel University, and has worked in agricultural economics and administration throughout his career. Due to isolation after infection with Covid-19, Nekula missed the new government’s swearing-in ceremony, and his post will be covered temporarily by Marian Jurecka until January 2022.
Jozef Síkela (Minister of Industry and Trade, PirSTAN / STAN)
Entering politics for the first time, Síkela is a corporate banker with over 30 years experience in the investment banking field, and a long-time member of the Board of Directors of Erste Bank. A graduate of the University of Economics in Prague, where he organised student strikes during the Velvet Revolution, he is a strong supporter of the European Green Deal.
Pavel Blažek (Minister of Justice, SPOLU / ODS)
Arguably the most controversial member of the new government, Justice Minister Blažek previously held the same role in the Cabinet of Petr Necas from 2012-13. A former lecturer in Law at MUNI, he is a veteran of local politics in Brno, where he earned the nickname “Don Pablo”, both due to his capacity for building unlikely coalitions across ideological lines, and persistent allegations of conflict of interest. Blažek’s nomination was reported to have been a point of contention with other coalition parties during coalition negotiations.
Martin Baxa (Minister of Culture, SPOLU / ODS)
MUNI-educated Baxa spent several years as Mayor of Plzen before his election to the Chamber of Deputies in 2017. He previously taught geography at a gymnazium in Plzen, his alma mater. Baxa is distinctive for his regular wearing of a bow-tie.
Petr Gazdík (Minister of Education, Youth and Sport, PirSTAN / STAN)
An MP since 2010, Gazdík also spent two periods as leader of STAN, a total of eight years, before stepping down in 2019. An alumnus of MUNI, he spent a period as Mayor of Suchá Loz in the Zlin Region, before becoming active in regional and national politics.
Anna Hubáčková (Minister of the Environment, SPOLU / KDU-CSL)
A Senator for Hodonin since 2016, Hubáčková is yet another MUNI graduate in the new cabinet. She has held a number of political offices in South Moravia, including a term as Mayor of Ratíškovice in the Hodonin Region. She has previously been awarded by the Czech Environment Ministry for her work to improve the environment in South Moravia.
Michal Šalomoun (Minister for Legislation, PirSTAN / Pirate Party)
Another MUNI graduate, and sometimes external lecturer, Šalomoun will become the government minister overseeing legislation. A lawyer from Třebíč specialising in copyright law, he has previously stood unsuccessfully for the Senate and European Parliament as a non-partisan candidate with the support of the Pirate Party.
Helena Langšádlová (Minister for Science and Research, SPOLU / TOP 09)
An MP since 2010, Langšádlová was also the Mayor of Černošice (for KDU-CSL) from 1998 to 2006, joining TOP 09 in 2009. She completed her university studies in Kolin and Prague, and has a previous employment background as a construction technician.
Mikuláš Bek (Minister for European Affairs, PirSTAN / STAN)
After serving as Fiala’s successor as Rector of MUNI, Bek was elected to the Czech Senate in 2018 for the Brno-město District as a non-partisan candidate, subsequently joining the STAN group in the Senate. A musicologist by background, Bek received media attention from a series of public spats with President Milos Zeman involving retaliatory disinvitations to public events at MUNI and Prague Castle.