Danuše Nerudová concluded the hectic period that began last year with the announcement of her candidacy by meeting with President Petr Pavlo. In addition to her work at the university, she is planning a short break, after which she will go to Pavel again. “I suggested to him that we organize a big meeting of young people. I want to support them a lot,” Nerudová told Aktuálně.cz. He is also considering running for the European Parliament next year.
After the presidential election, I was anxiously waiting to see what project you would come up with, but so far I have not seen or heard anything concrete. What are you waiting for?
All things have their meaning and time in life. And I sprinted for a year and a half, so now I deserve to go slow for a while.
Does this mean that you will rather sit in front of your cottage and observe the misty valley, as you showed on social networks?
Not that. If there is nothing visible around me, it does not mean that nothing is happening. The central theme of my efforts will certainly be the world for young people and the role of young people in society. We have a lot of work ahead of us as a country in this regard.
What would you say to young people who are interested in whether they can count on your support? Can they meet you, do you have specific information for them?
Of course they can. I am preparing a project that will be here for them. But it will still take some time. At the same time, my presidential website is still working, it has contact information for me and my spokesperson. Anyone who wants to contact me can.
Last Friday, you visited President Petr Pavel, with whom you agreed on cooperation specifically around young people. But even when you left, you didn’t announce anything concrete.
We agreed with Mr. President that we will meet again in June, when I will tell him a clear idea of how I would like to work with young people.
Video: Radek Bartoníček
You didn’t expect the president to offer you close cooperation?
Mr. President and I agreed on a different concept of cooperation than that I would be his internal adviser, because a different kind of cooperation will suit both of us. I don’t want to commit myself to anyone. We agreed that I will develop my agenda for young people and they have two months at the Castle to grasp the topic of young people in some way and create a background for it.
Mr. President talked about standing in the background and patronizing it. I should cover the initiative. We’ll see when I show him my idea in June if we agree or not.
What will you show him? Why are you so mysterious?
I’m not mysterious, but sometimes I feel like everyone has a clear idea of what Neruda should and shouldn’t do. I would like to be in their place. I have my idea, but to work on it, it takes a lot of work and some time.
I want a meeting of young inspirational leaders
I heard behind the political scenes that you would like to organize a large gathering of young people at Prague Castle, perhaps along the lines of Forum 2000, which is a large and respected international event based on Václav Havel’s legacy. Is it true?
Yes it is true. That’s what we talked about with Mr. President. We talked about the fact that with the end of the presidential campaign, youth issues died in the public space, and therefore they need to be addressed. And part of that could be, for example, holding a big conference once every six months, something like Forum 2000 for young people.
I think it would be terribly important if something like this took place under the auspices of the president. If interesting young people not only from our country but from all over Europe participated in it. Among other things, this can create pressure on politicians to deal with youth issues. That’s one of the ideas we’re talking about.
So Forum 2000 for young people at the Castle?
Yes! But it doesn’t have to be at the Castle, it can be anywhere else. But with the patronage of the president.
I’m glad you named a specific project.
But understand me, it’s something that needs a lot of work, plus I want to be truly independent. At the moment when I would be an internal adviser to Mr. President, I am already the Castle team. But I am not the Hrad team and I have never been, I supported Petr Pavel for a fortnight on the basis of our agreed cooperation.
Would other activities of yours be linked to such an event, or would young people simply meet once in a while and then there would be peace again for a few months?
Of course, it would not be an isolated event, other things would be connected to it. It would be an ongoing initiative. I’m working on it with colleagues, it’s a lot of work. When we are done, we will present it to the people who financially supported me in the presidential campaign and who do not care where Czech society is going. This cannot be prepared with the snap of a finger. It’s terribly complicated. And we have to work it out.
Do you take inspiration from somewhere abroad?
Without wanting to compare completely, I like what NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has. He has a group of young leaders, who are visionaries who talk about what NATO should look like in the future.
I want to work on a similar concept that would relate to the development of the Czech Republic. I want to ensure that the aforementioned meeting of young people has the best possible content. I want us to develop a vision of what our country should look like in the future. Take, for example, the fact that in 2040 a third of pensioners will be here. Young people will not have a very strong voice in the elections, so it is essential that they are heard as much as possible in the public space.
What if the president rejects your idea and doesn’t want to cooperate? Does it depend on the Castle?
It isn’t. I’ll definitely look into it regardless of whether he supports it. But I would like his patronage and cooperation.
Danuše Nerudová in an interview for Aktuálně.cz in April 2023 | Photo: Radek Bartoníček
Is it true that you promised him support before the second round of elections if he fulfills two conditions? The first was his promise to support youth issues and the second was his apology to your supporters for being verbally attacked by some of his supporters?
I can confirm that, we really agreed on these terms.
Are you convinced that supporting youth issues is so absolutely crucial for our country?
Certainly. If I wanted to paraphrase the title of a movie, our country is not for the young.
Well, it isn’t. Not really. We have to do something about it.
The European Parliament makes the most sense to me
You are still employed as the head of the Department of Accounting and Taxation at the Mendel University in Brno. Nothing will change about that?
I don’t know what will happen, I’m doing this work for now. And I still have my students.
What exactly does your job look like, what do you do?
Some days I teach, some days I do research, I give lectures to students, I supervise diploma and bachelor’s theses, I work on the revision of study programs.
What research do you do?
I have been dealing with tax policy on a European scale for a long time, including how profits are shifted to tax havens and how inefficiently corporations are taxed. And I am still working on a joint proposal for corporate taxation in the European Union. Related to this is the issue of gender equality, because social and tax policies cannot be sustainable if there is no such equality.
I pay a lot of attention to this, I often travel and give lectures about this equality and how the Czech Republic should move from an assembly plant to a think tank. I went back to what I was doing before the presidential campaign, which is probably hard to understand for many people.
It seems to me that you experience a lot of criticism, which is sometimes aimed at you from somewhere. There is nothing strange about the fact that you have returned to your work.
Of course, constructive criticism pushes you forward. But there are also many opinions that are often based on feelings and a lack of information. All you have to do is ask. That doesn’t happen and then I read some journalists’ comments about how the university is no longer good enough for me. Or how I’m doing this or that wrong. Or comments about how I shouldn’t run for the European Parliament if I want to help young people here. I found out that people often have no idea what running for president entails, what all one has to face. In our country it is shrouded in mystery and myths.
What is the biggest myth?
That you have to have huge connections in business and 150 million crowns for the campaign. I went from Brno, without ties to business.
And you didn’t win.
This attitude of yours is exactly what is killing our society.
Because our society needs brave people who will dream big and sometimes make mistakes along the way.
I really started from scratch and came a long way. I want to motivate young people to have the courage to do great things and to be interested in what is happening in our country. That matters a lot to me. We as a society complain that we have a shortage of personalities, but the environment discourages personalities. For example, 80 percent of people in the West want to start a business, here it is not even half, because they are afraid of failure and that society will label them as losers. This is scary.
I did everything at 150 percent
Coming back to your candidacy, I get the feeling from your performances that behind the third place you see the mistakes of others rather than yourself. I am wrong?
I hope you are wrong. I’m talking about my mistakes. They happened and are happening every day. In a tough presidential campaign, you have to accept that even if you do everything at 150 percent, there are external circumstances beyond your control.
Did you do everything at 150 percent?
To the best of my knowledge, I think it did at the time. Now after the battle, of course, everyone is a general and sees the flaws. I am aware of them.
For you, the time when, towards the end of the year, for a few days, you did not respond sufficiently to the information regarding the deficiencies at Mendel University during the time you were rector, is considered a watershed moment for you. That’s when you lost your lead in the polls. Was that a major mistake on your part?
Yes, it was a communication error.
Was it just a matter of communication? I’m asking because I’m interested in how critical you are of yourself. Do you recognize the misconduct from the time you were rector? For example, the National Accreditation Office stated that the main fault was with the dean, but for some reason you neglected the control activity.
There are thousands and thousands of things you face in a presidential campaign, and if you change one, it won’t affect the outcome all that much. At the same time, I admit that I made some mistakes, today I would have handled some things differently. Do you think I could have made it this far if I wasn’t so self-critical?
How far will you go? Will it be the European Parliament? Are you considering a candidacy?
Yes, I’m thinking about it, it makes sense to me. I would like to transfer European topics to the Czech area. I consider it very important.
But wouldn’t you abandon the young people you say you care about?
We are talking hypothetically so far. I think not in combination with the youth project I was talking about. Connecting European politics with domestic public space makes a lot of sense to me, especially in relation to young people. Already by the fact that I would promote a European policy that is close to young people. I could also take them on internships abroad, open the doors of European institutions and politics to them, and do a lot of other useful things with them and for them.
Won’t it suit you above all else?
I could certainly help young people a lot in this way, because I would promote and explain European ideas in our country. And it really makes the most sense to me of all the possible options I’m considering.
Video: The main thing is that Babiš is not the president, Nerudová said at Prague Castle (March 10, 2023)
Among the guests at the inauguration of the new president, Petr Pavel, was also his opponent in the fight for the Castle, Danuše Nerudová. Aktuálně.cz asked her several questions. | Video: Radek Bartoníček
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