Problem Solvers and the Czech Republic

Stuart W. Holliday (Ambassador for Special Political Affairs at the United Nations, 2003-2005)

Cross-posted from Ambassador Holliday’s April 29, 2015 post to The Hill.

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It began with U.S. senators having lunch across the aisle, and now, problem solvers are having breakfast across the Atlantic.  Indeed, it seems the urgency to solve problems is truly universal.

The last few weeks have shown encouraging signs on Capitol Hill of teamwork between political parties.  A new but fragile trend seems to have taken hold, and our government has been bucking partisan politics in favor of collaboration, creating substantial gains through compromise and partnership.

Last week, the No Labels Problem Solvers were joined by its newest member: Andrej Babis, a prominent and innovative political leader in the Czech Republic.  At a breakfast with Problem Solvers in D.C., Babis took an interest in the new tone in Washington.  Perhaps that’s because he’s also motivated to the need for change and cooperation.  In addition to serving as the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance to the Czech Republic, Babis is credited with creating a fast-growing and widely received political movement in Czech politics.

Underscoring that the movement, ANO (which translates to “YES”), is not a political party, Babis explained the creation of ANO was a necessary answer to politics as usual in his home country.  “We all have the same program,” he explained about the status quo, “money and power.”  ANO was an answer that focused on creating a political movement to fight corruption, abolish immunity and, perhaps most importantly, promote collaboration between political parties.

And so it is no surprise that Babis, a problem solver in his own right, found himself at a breakfast seated beside some of our nation’s top Problem Solvers.  The dialogue breakfast stands as an example of the universal need for problem solving, and for dramatic and decided change in governing practices, as well as a shared desire for it across the Atlantic.  Minister Babis began the ANO movement in 2011, which recently won the second most seats in Parliament.  The positive response in favor of a more collaborative party reinforces Minister Babis’ observation that the Czech Republic “needs the new political generation.”

No Labels shares a common vision with Minister Babis’ ANO movement – shaped by a weariness of the paralyzing and relentlessly grinding partisan politics that have all but halted constructive policy making, No Labels urges our legislators to “stop fighting, start fixing,” and create a middle-ground constituency – one of candidates willing to reach across the aisle and work together in favor of the American people.

When asked about the success of his political movement, Minister Babis suggested its success was due to the right atmosphere.  With the current collaborative politics we’ve seen lately in the Capitol in the form of the Medicare Sustainable Growth Rate bill, the Iran deal, and most recently the National Strategic Agenda, it’s clear the time is ripe for a national movement of our own. No Labels is rising to this challenge and Minister Babis is just another example that problem-solving politics isn’t constrained by national borders. Cooperation across parties and sectors to solve problems is a universal demand and greater international dialogue between those at the forefront of this movement will strengthen effective government and civic engagement at home and abroad.

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