Klaus loses ‘most-trusted’ crown to chief justice

After the Chilean pen incident, the handwriting may be on the wall: Klaus dropped from first place as most-trusted political figure

Constitutional Court Chief Justice Pavel Rychetský is now the most-trusted leader of a Czech state organ, according to SANEP | na serveru Lidovky.cz | aktuální zprávy Constitutional Court Chief Justice Pavel Rychetský is now the most-trusted leader of a Czech state organ, according to SANEP | foto: ČTKČeská pozice
Constitutional Court Chief Justice Pavel Rychetský is now the most-trusted leader of a Czech state organ, according to SANEP

The Czech president has fallen from first place in trust among the top state officials; recent events may have hurt Václav Klaus’ standing, as the Center for Analysis and Empirical Studies (SANEP) said in its latest poll on the subject.

“The Czech population showed the greatest confidence in Constitutional Court Chief Justice Pavel Rychetský, and the credibility of the … the traditional winner, namely President Václav Klaus, fell,” SANEP said. Besides Rychetský and Klaus, the poll ranked Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies Miroslava Němcová (Civic Democrats, ODS), Prime Minister Petr Nečas (ODS) and Senate President Milan Štěch (Social Democrats, ČSSD).

Rychetský was trusted by 50.1 percent of respondents, the only one of the five leaders to have a majority. “The chief justice of the Constitutional Court, who is renowned as a serious and knowledgeable expert, finished in third place in October 2010; he is now trusted by about 5.4 percent more respondents,” SANEP said. Overall, 35.4 percent said they didn’t trust Rychetský.

Do you trust President Václav Klaus?

In second place, Klaus saw his level of trust drop by 0.8 percentage points since the previous poll in October, to 48.3 percent overall, with 47 percent not trusting him. “The decline of confidence in the current head of state, though very modest, is most likely due to his behavior in dealing with the government crisis when, for example refused to accept the resignation of [three] ministers from the Public Affairs (VV) party, which was proposed by Prime Minister Petr Nečas,” SANEP said.

There was also global interest in a video of Klaus appropriating a pen at a press conference in Chile, which displayed both Klaus and the country in a poor light, according to many observers; however, SANEP did not comment on the incident.

Also falling by 0.8 percentage points, Chamber of Deputies Speaker Němcová qualified for third place with 40.7 percent expressing confidence and slightly more, 47.4 percent disagreeing. The biggest shift, though, was for Prime Minister Nečas, who fell two places in the ranking to fourth place and lost 17.8 percentage points. “It can be said that the public is unhappy with his work at the head of a coalition government, which is facing a government crisis,” SANEP said. Nečas is now trusted by 30.1 percent and not trusted by 64.2 percent. ‘[In] the case of Milan Štěch, mistrust can be attributed to his dull political and media style.’

In last place in the poll’s ranking was Senate President Štěch, who took office in Nov. 24, 2010, and was not ranked previously. He had the trust of 25.2 percent of respondents and is not trusted by 46.1 percent. “It is likely that in the case of Milan Štěch, mistrust can be attributed to his dull political and media style. … This is confirmed by the fact that the former union leader failed to create an impression on 28.7 percent of respondents [who were undecided],” SANEP said. Štěch’s predecessor Přemysl Sobotka (ODS) was trusted by 32.5 percent in the October 2010 poll.

Trust in top state officials (in percent)

Polling took place April 9–16, 2011 with 12,730 respondents between the ages of 18 and 69 who answered questions both over the Internet and offline. The margin of error is 1.5 percent, according to SANEP. The video if Klaus taking the pen first aired April 10, right after polling began.

A December poll by the Public Opinion Research Center (CVVM) that ranked more officials showed Klaus in first place, followed by Foreign Affairs Minister Karel Schwarzenberg (TOP 09) and Miroslava Němcová. In that poll, Rychetský was in fourth place. A follow-up poll in March 2011 saw Rychetský overtake Němcová for third place.