Exclusive Interview: Petr Mach, the leader of Free Citizens Party
Ing. Petr Mach PhD. is a leading Czech economist and politician. He is a macroeconomics teacher at two private universities and a former adviser to the current president Vaclav Klaus. His long-term studies involve taxation, deficit, debt and currency integration. He is the author and co-author of two books: “The cons of European integration” (2002) and “How to leave the EU” (2010).
Petr Mach is the leader of small non-parliamentary libertarian party Strana svobodných občanů (Free Citizens Party). We invited him to a small interview about current affairs in Czech Republic and the EU.
Can you please explain to our readers the main goals of your party? Which political parties in the English-speaking world are closest to you?
The Free Citizens Party (Strana svobodných občanů) tries to protect maximum individual liberties as well individual responsibilities. That includes minimising the scope of government regulations and redistribution. Nigel Farage´s UK Independence Party is very close to our opinions.
Which EU integrational agreement do you think has the best impact on the lives of foreigners living in the Czech Republic?
The core issue is a non-visa requirement policy in the EU. That means students can live here without any further constraints. The same is granted for those working as well.
How would you change the immigration policies in the Czech Republic?
The Czech Republic does not have any cultural or social problems with immigration. I do not see any valuable changes needed. On the other hand, countries like the Netherlands, Germany and the UK have a great number of immigrants coming in and a country like Italy has to deal even with refugees. I am afraid this can lead to some new regulations coming from the European Union, which can lead to further problems with immigration.
Where do you see opportunities for foreign investors in the Czech Republic? Does it make sense to start a business and live here?
Though we are currently in economic stagnation, the Czech Republic is still a place where it is possible to live free and do business. The Czechs do not leave. The Czech market is very perspective and we export great products. I can not say which area is the best, but there is a large number of really good areas where to do business.
How do you see the current position of the Czech Republic in the European Union? For example, the procrastination of Euro adoption as a common currency.
Many Czech economists and politicians agree with the public opinion that the introduction of the EURO currency would not do any good to the Czech economy. That is why the Czech government does not want to introduce the EURO at the present time. We do not want to be part of the Eurozone where one country has to pay for the others and where the common currency is destroying the weaker countries competitiveness. The Free Citizens Party wants to negotiate the opt-out of EURO, the same as Denmark and the United Kingdom have. We do not want to abolish our own currency, the Czech Koruna.
How do evaluate the 10 years of Vaclav Klaus´s presidency? Who and why would you support in the upcoming elections?
Vaclav Klaus has a healthy point of view of soft euro-scepticism which influenced positively public opinion in odds of lesser European integration. Thanks to him we are not part of the Eurozone and we do not face the problems the other countries are having. The Free Citizen has not succeeded in gathering enough signatures to nominate its own candidate. Among existing candidates there is no one whom we would back.
Young Americans and British come to the Czech Republic to live and study. What can help make their lives better?
There are many things that can be re-engineered and done better. There are big taxes and regulations in the Czech Republic. This influences the lives of foreigners and Czechs alike. Unfortunately, taxes and bureaucracy are growing and the economy is not. This will get better once we have a government that will attack this issue boldly and put an end to taxation, regulation and subsidies.
How would you explain the winning wave of the Communist Party in the recent gubernatorial elections? Do you think these results can harm the country in the years to come?
A large number of centre-right wing voters protested against the current government by not voting at all. This caused a rise in the percentage of left-wing parties. Those were only the gubernatorial elections and the regional municipalities do not create laws (unlike the states in the US). The everyday lives of ordinary people will not be influenced at all.