Vladimír Špidla

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Vladimír Špidla
Vladimír Špidla in 2007
Prime Minister of the Czech Republic
In office
12 July 2002 – 4 August 2004
PresidentVáclav Havel
Václav Klaus
Preceded byMiloš Zeman
Succeeded byStanislav Gross
European Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities
In office
22 November 2004 – 9 February 2010
PresidentJosé Manuel Barroso
Preceded byAnna Diamantopoulou
Stavros Dimas (Employment and Social Affairs)
Succeeded byLászló Andor (Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion)
President of the Czech Republic
In office
3 February 2003 – 7 March 2003
Serving with Lubomír Zaorálek
Preceded byVáclav Havel
Succeeded byVáclav Klaus
Leader of the Social Democratic Party
In office
7 April 2001 – 26 July 2004
Preceded byMiloš Zeman
Succeeded byStanislav Gross
First Deputy Prime Minister
Minister of Labour and Social Affairs
In office
22 July 1998 – 12 July 2002
Prime MinisterMiloš Zeman
Preceded byStanislav Volák
Succeeded byZdeněk Škromach
Member of the Chamber of Deputies
In office
1 January 1996 – 31 August 2004
Personal details
Born (1951-04-22) 22 April 1951 (age 72)
Prague, Czechoslovakia (now Czech Republic)
Political partySocial Democratic Party
Alma materCharles University in Prague

Vladimír Špidla (Czech pronunciation: [ˈvlaɟɪmiːr ˈʃpɪdla]) (born 22 April 1951) is a Czech politician who served as the prime minister of the Czech Republic from July 2002 to August 2004 and as European Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities from November 2004 to February 2010. He also served as chief adviser to Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka from 2014 to 2017.

Early life[edit]

Born in Prague, Špidla studied history at Charles University. His thesis was Založení Živnostenské banky (Establishment of the Entrepreneurial Bank). After his graduation in 1976, he worked in several different jobs, including menial ones, as he refused to fulfil political obligations necessary[clarification needed] for access to better employment. He also worked as an archaeologist.

Political career[edit]

Špidla entered local politics in his hometown of Jindřichův Hradec after the Velvet Revolution, joining the re-established Czech Social Democratic Party (ČSSD, then called "Czechoslovak Social Democracy"). In 1991–1996 he served as the director of the district labour office. In 1992, he became a member of the Presidium of ČSSD, in March 1997 its statutory vice-chairman, and in April 2001 chairman of ČSSD after the previous chairman Miloš Zeman resigned. He was elected to parliament in 1996, and was First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Labour and Social Affairs in the government of Miloš Zeman from 22 July 1998 to 12 July 2002.

He was appointed Prime Minister on 12 July 2002 in the coalition government of ČSSD and the smaller Christian Democratic Union - Czechoslovak People's Party and Freedom Union-Democratic Union. During that time, he also held Presidential powers from 2 February 2003 until 7 March 2003, as the presidential term ended before the Parliament could elect a new one. His government proposed some reformed to address the growing budget deficit, but their proposals were criticised by the opposition being too mild, as well as focusing too much on tax increases rather than spending cuts. Partly due to tensions within the coalition and a slim majority in the parliament, the government was unable or unwilling to take more radical measures.[citation needed]

Špidla resigned as Prime Minister in June 2004 following poor results for his party and coalition partners in the 2004 European Parliament elections and subsequent loss of support within ČSSD, and he left office on 26 July 2004. He was succeeded by Interior Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Stanislav Gross, whose government was sworn in on 4 August. Špidla then accepted the nomination to the European Commission, where he became European Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities from 22 November 2004.

Špidla was considered to be on the left wing of ČSSD, though strongly anti-communist. In foreign policy, he was strongly pro-European and expressed support for further integration. His acceptance of the European Commissioner post was criticised as a "golden parachute", as well as an abandonment of ČSSD and Czech politics.[citation needed]

As a Commissioner, Špidla stated his desire to preserve the European social model, and said that Europe needed to preserve its "core values of social justice, equality, respect for rights and dignity for every individual."[1] His key policies were to "create more and better jobs," "reap the benefits of its enlargement," "address the impact of demographic ageing" and "promote an inclusive society."[1] He also created a European Globalisation adjustment Fund (EGF) similar to the European Social Fund to help businesses adjust to the effects of globalisation.[2] He stood down in February 2010.

Špidla attempted to return to Czech politics, running for a seat in the Czech senate at the 2010 elections, but was defeated by incumbent Tomáš Jirsa of the Civic Democrats.[3] In 2014, Špidla became Chief Adviser to Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka.

Špidla was nominated by the Prague branch of ČSSD for the 2021 legislative election.[4] However, the party did not reach the 5% threshold and Špidla thus did not become an MP.[5]

Špidla ran in the 2022 Czech Senate election for the Senate seat of Prague 11.[6] He received 8.39% of votes finishing 5th and thus failed to advance to second round.[7]

Personal life[edit]

Špidla has been married twice; he has two sons from his first marriage and another two children acquired by marriage. His hobbies include cross-country and marathon running. He speaks German and French, but his English is weaker, which was used to question his qualifications for the European Commission.


  1. ^ a b "Vladimir Spidla - EU Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities". ec.europa.eu. Archived from the original on 18 October 2006.
  2. ^ "European Globalisation Adjustment Fund". Archived from the original on 12 March 2009. Retrieved 9 February 2010.
  3. ^ "Špidla po prohře: Nemusím brát každou práci, budu přednášet a psát". iDNES.cz. 23 October 2010. Retrieved 1 August 2016.
  4. ^ "Návraty v ČSSD: Po Škromachovi míří na kandidátku expremiér Špidla". Seznam Zprávy. Retrieved 11 July 2021.
  5. ^ "Vítězství pravice otevírá prostor pro politiku sociální demokracie, předpovídá Špidla". ČT24 (in Czech). Česká televize. Retrieved 12 July 2022.
  6. ^ "Ještě pořád mám sílu, řekl Špidla, který kandiduje za ČSSD do Senátu". iDnes.cz. Retrieved 12 July 2022.
  7. ^ "Vítězové a poražení voleb: Slaví Novotný či Vandas. Neuspěl Špidla, v cílové rovince padl Váňa". cnn.iprima.cz (in Czech). Prima F. T. V. Retrieved 15 November 2022.

External links[edit]

Party political offices
Preceded by Chairperson of the Social Democratic Party
Succeeded by
Political offices
Preceded by Prime Minister of the Czech Republic
Succeeded by
Preceded by Czech European Commissioner
Succeeded by
Preceded byas European Commissioner for Employment and Social Affairs European Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities
Succeeded byas European Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion