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The politician I admire

English Pages, 13. 11. 2006

Margaret Thatcher, a remarkable woman, one of the greatest politicians of modern age, celebrated her 80th birthday last year, while being active, giving speeches, writing, and attending one event after the other all around the world.

I had the pleasure to meet her many times in the past 17 years, after the fall of communism. It doesn’t seem to me that there is anything “iron” about her. She has always been kind, friendly, attentive and listening.

What I admire most is that she did not compromise with those who did not share the same basic moral and political principles of human freedom, to which she herself has been faithful all her life and which she consistently used in her public activities.

Because of that she managed to achieve things which had seemed almost impossible. Under her leadership Britain changed and progressed substantially. The eleven years during which she led the British government were decisive not only for Britain itself and for Europe but specifically for the future of Central and Eastern Europe, including my country. It is not an exaggeration to say that the melting down of communism in Central and Eastern Europe was initiated in Great Britain in the year 1979 by the election victory of the Conservative party and Margaret Thatcher. She attacked, with her proverbial consistence and vehemence, the ever expanding state interfering in the individual’s life. She was the first example of success. She proved that it is possible to interrupt this seemingly inevitable tendency and return to the liberal social system.

When communism collapsed, for many in the Czech Republic and in the West as well, capitalism itself was considered a dirty word. Influenced by Margaret Thatcher, I succeeded in persuading the Czech people in the early nineties that we had to restore capitalism. I was proud to say that I was a Thatcherist. I founded a party which admired Margaret Thatcher and British Conservative Party, a party which originally wanted to use the same name.

Margaret Thatcher is one of the few politicians who will be written into history of political thinking. Thatcherism is a combination of belief in individual freedom and free markets on the one hand, and of advocating national interests and resenting supranational government on the other hand. In Europe, politicians who push for minimizing government regulations, for reducing taxes and for privatization, the politicians who defend democracy and freedom, politicians who resist any tendencies which suppress it, can be called Thatcherist. Unfortunately, it seems there are not many of them throughout Europe now. Right wing mainstream parties in Europe are hardly distinguishable from the Social Democrats these days.

For the advocates of freedom and democracy Margaret Thatcher is deservingly a living legend. I have met with many giants of the world politics but none of them has left such an impression with me as this exceptional woman.

Václav Klaus, The TIME, 13.11.2006


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