Free Marketeer Vaclav Klaus to Become President of European Union
By David J. Theroux • Monday November 24, 2008 11:48 PM PDT •
Just when it looked like statism was in an unchallenged political trajectory in the U.S. and Europe, the classical liberal President of the Czech Republic, Dr. Václav Klaus, stands to become the next President of the European Union, the world’s biggest trading bloc. Needless to say, those who F. A. Hayek dubbed “the socialists of all parties” (be they red, brown, or green) are none too pleased. As the New York Times reports:
Now the Czech Republic is about to assume the rotating presidency of the European Union and there is palpable fear that Mr. Klaus will embarrass the world’s biggest trading bloc and complicate its efforts to address the economic crisis and expand its powers. His role in the Czech Republic is largely ceremonial, but he remains a powerful force here, has devotees throughout Europe and delights in basking in the spotlight.
“Oh God, Vaclav Klaus will come next,” read a recent headline in the Austrian daily Die Presse, in an article anticipating the havoc he could wreak in a union of 470 million people already divided over its future direction.
A professional economist and devotee of the work of Hayek, Milton Friedman, James Buchanan, and other free market thinkers, Dr. Klaus is well-known for challenging the extremely harmful folly of central government planning and interventionism. For example, he has called the current climate change hysteria “a dangerous myth” in misguiding western officials to adopt pointless and anti-social measures, he has derided the bailouts of European banks as “irresponsible protectionism,” and when it comes to the European Union (EU), he is a vocal opponent of the Lisbon Treaty and has called for nothing less than for the EU itself to be “scrapped.” And while other western leaders rattle their swords at Russia, Dr. Klaus has forged closer ties for expanded trade and other peaceful relations.
His accomplishments in the former Czechoslovakia are impressive, as the Times notes:
As a former finance minister and prime minister, he is credited with presiding over the peaceful 1993 split of Czechoslovakia into two states and helping to transform the Czech Republic into one of the former Soviet bloc’s most successful economies.
For the Independent Institute, Dr. Klaus has served as Honorary Co-Chairman and a featured speaker at our 1998 Dinner to Honor Sir John Marks Templeton (listen here), and Honorary Co-Chair of our recent event, A Gala for Liberty, at which we honored entrepreneur William K. Bowes, Jr., actor/director Andy Garcia, and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Desmond Tutu.