Promise Seen in Czech Republic's Václav Klaus
March 18, 2003
The election of Václav Klaus to the presidency of the Czech Republic augurs well for his country, Europe and the United States. Political observers note that he is a friend of freedom, with a life-long devotion to democracy and free-market economics.
Klaus, as a former prime minister of his country, led the longest-lived post-Soviet reform government and presided over the peaceful separation of Czechoslovakia.
A student of the writings of Milton Friedman and F.A. Hayek, he ushered in a period of strong economic growth after dismantling his country's massive government structure and initiating reforms that even had the backing of Social Democrats.
- In 1989, only 3 percent of Czech gross domestic product was in the private sector, but under Klaus, the country quickly outstripped its neighbors.
- Czech GDP doubled and per capita income is among the highest in Central Europe.
- Under his leadership, his country paid off its International Monetary Fund loan two years ahead of schedule and earned an "A" rating from Standard & Poor's.
- The country now has one of the highest per capita income figures in Central Europe, and attracts $5 billion annually in foreign investment.
- Among former Soviet satellites, the country is the only one where communists have not returned to power.
Klaus identifies accession to the European Union as his foremost priority and he recognizes the potential for a Europe-wide free trade area. Significantly, he is a backer of U.S. efforts to disarm Saddam Hussein.
Source: Pete du Pont (policy chairman, National Center for Policy Analysis), "Klaus Victory Vista," Washington Times, March 18, 2003.
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