Feeling a bit unsure as to your future career plans? Why not take some inspiration from controversial Czech president Miloš Zeman.
Though he may not be quite a household name across the continent, over the past few years, Czech president Miloš Zeman has certainly earned quite a reputation for himself amongst the Visegrád states. Outspoken to an eye-watering degree and not untainted by scandal, the man who emerged victorious from 2013’s hard-fought presidential election has become one of Europe’s most colourful politicians for many a year.
Always dependable for forthright views and a laissez-faire attitude towards fact-checking, Zeman is proof that high office is not just restricted to those held in check by the masters of spin. So, for an unorthodox – some might say on occasion downright inappropriate – take on how to make it in the world of politics, why not take a leaf out of Zeman’s book. To help you on your way, we’ve compiled a few of the finer points essential to becoming a proper Zemovec.
Stand out from the crowd
First things first, it’s important to make certain that no-one is in any danger of mixing you up with one of the others to have held your office. In Zeman’s case, this has included, perhaps most obviously, not being called Václav, something which has marked him from as distinct all previous presidents of the Czech Republic. Zeman has also benefitted greatly from the fact that – unlike his immediate predecessor Václav Klaus – he has never been caught on camera stealing a pen. So, in order to ensure that you get the recognition you deserve, have an unmistakeable name, adopt stances that others have baulked at and keep your hands to yourself whenever there’s stationary about.
Take care when picking flights
If you’re going to start an argument, make sure you do it right. This begins, of course, with your choice of opponent. E.g., ideally, they should either be dead or belong to an unpopular minority; under no circumstances should they be your equal or able to defend themselves. For example, pick a moderately famous and long-deceased author, one who was persecuted by the Nazis, and then say that he actually thought Hitler was pretty great. Refer to reliable sources, such as an article that does not exist. You can even offer a generous reward for the person who finds this elusive article if you like.
If you don’t fancy having a set-to with the dead, go for vegetarians, Roma or women. Repeatedly explain in public, preferably when the cameras are rolling, that refugees pose a great threat to “our” culture, that all the women of the land will soon have to wear burkas and that we’re actually dealing with an organised invasion of asylum seekers. Rely on clichés and don’t be afraid to make something up if you run out of arguments. Important: never remain objective, never acquaint yourself thoroughly with the matter in hand.
Choose your friends wisely
Good friends should share the same values. If you want to become a bone-fide Zemovec, then you’ll need to find friends who understand democracy and human rights. If you can’t find anyone in your home country, then look further afield. China would be an obvious choice. There one can learn how to stabilise a society, said Zeman during a state visit. If China is too far away for you, try Russia. You see, even more important than having shared values is that “economic areas complement each other”. For that reason, sanctions are a waste of time. Reject them as a matter of principle. Take a stand for states and statesmen that might be of service to you and companies in your country, regardless of their understanding of law and justice. Never, however, speak up for the weak, oppressed or persecuted.
Of course, it doesn’t hurt to have allies in your own country too though. If there are groups in your country that have the high arts of populism and xenophobia down to even more of a T than you, sympathise with them. Appear together with their spokesperson, ideally on a public stage, even better on a national holiday so that everyone in the country can see that you back your friends unreservedly. If it should suddenly come to light that one of your friends is, for example, being investigated for hate speech, distance yourself half-heartedly. Never admit having made a mistake. After all, you couldn’t have known that your friend had been spreading hate long before your appearance together. Or at least not if you’d stuck to the advice never to acquaint yourself with all the facts in advance.
Undress for success
Putin knows it. The models of The Sun and BILD Zeitung know it. And if the snaps from a summer boat trip are anything to go by, Zeman too has learned that showing a little flesh can go a long way. This sartorial snippet of advice is our fourth and final tip for any budding statesmen and -women. Don’t worry if you’ve got man-boobs or a less than beach-ready bikini bod, just let it all hang out and both the press and the public will go wild for you. And if they don’t, well, they’re probably just jealous.