Czech Rein, but Not Whoa

Europe - west and east - is muddling its way toward greater unity. Europe West's core nations are trying to cut back unemployment, stagnant growth, and the steep costs of their welfare systems. Europe East is seeing a voter-imposed slowdown on its historic shift from communism to the free market.

Smack in the middle of all this economic adjustment sits the Czech Republic. Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus's government has managed by far the most successful dismantling of communism. Former state industries are now 80 percent in Czech stockholders' hands. Unemployment is a mere 3 percent. And yet voters have just reduced Klaus's margin of power.

But unlike their neighbors, they did not return ex-Communists to power. Czechs shouldn't let this be more than a pause in their march to rejoin Europe, economically and spiritually.

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