Václav Klaus (born June 19, 1941) is a Czech economist and politician who served in several political positions, including as the Czech Republic's president from 2003 to 2013. Unlike the vast majority of European leaders, Klaus holds strong conservative and libertarian positions, particularly on the European Union and global warming, something which has helped cause him to be seen as controversial in the Czech Republic. He has strongly opposed cultural Marxism and the War on Sovereignty. Along with Václav Havel and Miloš Zeman, Klaus is considered one of the three most prominent figures in early post-communist Czech history.
Early life and career
Klaus was born in Prague on June 19, 1941. He graduated from the University of Economics in Prague in 1963, and he earned his Ph.D. from the Institute of Economics of the Czech Academy of Sciences in 1968. As Czechoslovakia was relatively free – for a communist state – at the time, Klaus was able to leave the country to study in Italy and the United States.
Forced for "political reasons" to abandon his career in economic research, Klaus worked in the Czechoslovak State Bank for several years until 1987, when he was able to return to research work at the Prognostic Institute of the Czech Academy of Sciences. He continued economic research and teaching even after entering politics.
Klaus began his political career in 1989, during the Velvet Revolution, and he served as the Czechoslovak finance minister from 1989 to 1992. He became active in the Civil Forum Movement, the dominant political party, and he became the chairman of the organization in 1990. When the party split in April 1991, Klaus co-founded the Civic Democratic Party and served as its chairman until December 2002.
In October 1991, Klaus became the vice chairman of Czechoslovakia, and in June 1992, he became the prime minister of the Czech Republic, which was still part of Czechoslovakia at the time. Klaus remained prime minister after the Czech Republic became an independent country after the Velvet Divorce that same year, and he remained prime minister until being forced to submit his resignation in 1997 when his governing coalition fell apart. As the Czech prime minister, Klaus "led its economic transition to a free market," and the Czech Republic saw more economic growth than any other post-communist country at the time.
In 1998, Klaus became the chairman of the Chamber of Deputies of the Czech parliament, serving until 2002.
President of the Czech Republic
On February 28, 2003, the Czech parliament elected Klaus as the president of the Czech Republic. He was re-elected on February 15, 2008, and he served until March 7, 2013, when he was succeeded by Miloš Zeman.
As president, Klaus took strong Euroskeptic positions. On November 3, 2009, he became the last leader of an EU member state to sign the Lisbon Treaty, doing so under heavy pressure. Klaus also criticized Europe's tendency to move toward socialism, greater government regulations, and organizations like the EU, comparing these trends to what he experienced under communism. He also has warned that greater integration under the EU would lead to a loss of sovereignty and democracy.
Klaus also strongly criticized the notion of human-caused climate change, comparing AGW ideology to communism. He argues that environmentalism should be considered a social science, comparable to "other 'isms'" such as communism, feminism, and liberalism. Speaking as someone who lived under communism, Klaus argued that environmentalism was the "biggest threat to freedom, democracy, the market economy and prosperity," and that it would institute "central (now global) planning."
Klaus continued to advocate for conservative and limited government policies after leaving office. He continued criticizing the EU and advocated for having the Czech Republic leave the organization. Klaus also criticized the EU's open borders policies after the European migrant crisis began, and he argued that European elites were implementing open border policies in order to permanently and drastically change Europe. Klaus criticized the EU and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker for celebrating Karl Marx's 200th birthday while defending his legacy, saying that "this shows that the EU is turning into a Marxist project."
Klaus is married to his wife Livia Klausova, who is also an economist, and together, they two sons and five grandchildren.
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