Last modified on 21 October 2014, at 21:22

Jiří Čunek

Jiří Čunek
Jiri Cunek in 2012.JPG
Minister for Regional Development
In office
9 January 2007 – 13 November 2007
Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek
Preceded by Petr Gandalovič
Succeeded by
In office
2 April 2008 – 23 January 2009
Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek
Preceded by
Succeeded by Cyril Svoboda
Senator from Vsetín
Incumbent
Assumed office
28 October 2006
Preceded by Jaroslav Kubín
Personal details
Born (1959-02-22) February 22, 1959 (age 55)
Zlín, Czechoslovakia
Political party KDU-ČSL
Jiří Čunek

Jiří Čunek (born February 22, 1959) is a Czech politician who was chairman of the Christian and Democratic Union - Czechoslovak People's Party from December 2006 to May 2009. Čunek was also Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister for Regional Development in the Government of the Czech Republic until January 23, 2009.

Čunek was born in Gottwaldov (now Zlín), and after studying at a technical college, he worked as a car technician for a construction company in Zlín and as a safety technician in Zbrojovka Vsetín from 1982 to 1998. In 1990, Čunek became a member of KDU-ČSL. He was elected to the municipal council of Vsetín in 1994 and became mayor of the town in 1998. Since 2000, Čunek has been a member of the council of the Zlín Region. According to media reports, he was a very successful and popular mayor. In 2006 Čunek, was elected to the Senate of the Czech Republic by a large margin of 71.3%.[1]

Čunek became famous across the country when the media published a report on how he dealt with the Romani slum in Vsetín. The Romani lived in the center of the city in a dilapidated building and as they did not pay the rent, Čunek forced them to move to the outskirts of Vsetín. Three families were moved into villages in the distant Jeseník District, where they bought houses, and the rest of families were moved into newly built flats near Vsetín.[citation needed] The media and several activists attempted to portray Čunek as a racist and supporter of the ghettoization of the Romani, and several leaders of the KDU-ČSL suggested Čunek to step down his positions.[citation needed]

Čunek used the newly acquired media publicity to announce his bid for the leader of KDU-ČSL party (the previous leader, Miroslav Kalousek, stepped down a few months earlier because of the outrage of party members over his proposal to form a minority coalition government with the Social Democrats with the parliamentary support of the hardline Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia). Based predominantly on his tough approach to the Roma, Čunek obtained the position of KDU-ČSL leader on December 9, 2006 with a wide margin—182 votes out of 312.

Čunek has been named a suspect in corruption case,[2] but not formally charged. Police suspected Čunek of having taken a bribe of half a million CZK from the H&B Real company for the sale of the majority share of the Vsetinské byty housing company in February 2002 when he was mayor of Vsetín.[3] The investigation has been suspended after the prosecutor who originally launched was dismissed for bias (the procedure being employed for the first time since the law allowing it was passed). The matter gained extreme publicity and Čunek was subjected to a personal finance audit by an American firm Kroll; the audit largely cleared Čunek of this particular bribe suspicion.[4][5] In late October 2007, Jiří Čunek was also accused by Czech Television of collecting government social assistance payments in 1998, while at the same time depositing close to 3.5 million Kc (approximately US$175,000) into various bank accounts.[6] Consequently, he resigned from government.[7]

He was reappointed as the Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister for Regional Development on April 2, 2008.[8]

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Party political offices
Preceded by
Miroslav Kalousek
Chairman of Czechoslovak People's Party
2006–
Succeeded by
Incumbent
Government offices
Preceded by
Petr Gandalovič
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Regional Development of the Czech Republic
2007; 2008–2009
Succeeded by
Cyril Svoboda