The public became aware of Marek Hilšer in July 2016, when he was among the nine candidates running for president. Since childhood, this physician, university professor and scientist has believed that people should be given help, be it as a physician or as a politician. This is why he is now running for the Senate and has indeed advanced to the second round of election. In an interview for Luxury Prague Life, he spoke not only about politics, but also about his private life, personal joys and passions.
I’ve sort of got used to the campaign by now. You could say I’ve been doing this for three years now, because I launched the presidential campaign two years before the elections, and the presidential elections took place half a year ago. Now, for another half year, I’ve been preparing my senate campaign, so it feels like I’ve been campaigning continuously. But I must say that I’m looking forward to the end, not matter how it all turns out. I will be happy to get away from the “campaigning” for some time.
Ever since secondary school, I was a member of a debating club. My father always guided me towards serving the people. He was a dentist in Chomutov, and he even treated Roma. He had an understanding for them, and while others tried to get rid of them, he never disdained them. And this is where I see the foundation of life, in service. It’s in me.
I’ve already faced the decision of whether or not to enter politics, but I was young. When I studied political sciences and international relations and completed my bachelor’s degree, I was deciding what next, and I told myself that I don’t want to go into politics as a young person. Back then, at twenty-four years old, it seemed to me that politics is not a trade that I would want to practice from the outset, breaking my back in party secretariats with my life, my existence dependent on it. This is why I opted for medicine. It fulfilled something similar for me as politics, a type of service. But a service that I can do as I see fit, to the best of my conscience.
I do science and teach, but I don’t think I’m the type of person that will make a global discovery. However, I’ve always been involved in politics, be it academic politics or activism. For instance, I fought against the hidden privatisation of university hospitals. So it’s always been there with me, and in this sense I am a person spread rather wide.
But now I’m concerned about what is happening in this country, the onset of the communists and so on. It bothers me and I think that if I sat somewhere in a lab with my hands folded, I might be even more unhappy. I would know what’s going on around me, without commenting on it or trying to do something about it.
No, she already knew about it when she married me. Although she didn’t suspect that I would be running for president. That was a big surprise for her, because I only told her about it some two months after the wedding. But she doesn’t keep me or discourage me from it in any way. Sometimes she says there has been enough campaigning and that she would rather I stayed home with her. Or that we should go out together and I should devote more time to her. Or rather to the family now, as we have a little girl. But she’s not against it and one could say that she support me. She knows there is no way to keep a man from doing what he feels and perceives as his mission. It would be no good.
Naturally, what happens is that you walk down the street and see people looking at your or turning after you. But I really haven’t encountered any negative reactions. They have largely been positive, people perceive me favourably. It is pleasant in some ways, but on the other hand one really feels closely watched. You’re on the tram and can feel people recognising you. The loss of privacy is definitely negative and sometimes people take photos. But if it makes them happy, then I don’t mind.
I like people in this sense, I like talking to them. But sometimes, when it lasts all day and you have to be naturally positive all the time, it gets rather demanding. One gives out a lot of energy, comes home and is no longer as positive as one should be.
Perhaps you meant to say president, because there are plenty of young politicians today. And that’s good. Whenever I look at the Chamber of Deputies, I see a bunch of fat old fogies and I have somehow fixed the idea that it’s for older people.
People often tell me that I look ten years younger and that they would never guess me to be forty-two. I suppose it’s a slight disadvantage, but one of the reasons why I ran for president is to represent the generation that grew up after 1989. I wanted to break the stereotype that a politician and president must always have greying hair, and that’s the only good choice. I wanted to present a young workhorse that would strive to move things forward. Let’s face it, the older one gets (and I can see it on myself), the more one strives to keep up certain stereotypes.
I think our country is currently standing on the brink of crucial global changes and challenges, and that I young person could be beneficial. J. F. Kennedy was forty-three when he took office, and at the turn of the 19th and 20th Centuries, the USA had a president who was only forty. We see President Macron in France, who is thirty-nine, and the Canadian Prime Minister who is forty-five. It’s not an entirely uncommon phenomenon and I think our future could hold a young presidential pair.
Some say that wisdom comes with old age, which is naturally true, but not always. Sometimes, old age comes alone, without the wisdom.
It may sound paradoxical, but I have to admit that I did not feel fundamentally sad. That’s because I was maybe a bit euphoric from the fact that I was trying to do something about it. In this sense, I had the feeling: “Yes, I fought.” I did not succeed, but that couldn’t even have been expected. But it was a success for me.
It was a failure for the country. It was wrong when Miloš Zeman won. From what I heard, people reacted by slamming doors and such. Recently, somebody on the street told me that his wife swore for the first time in her life.
Naturally, it bothers me and I’m disappointed that the Czech nation chose a person like Miloš Zeman. It is difficult for me to understand and it hurts, because it says something about us. I will let every individual interpret what they think it means. I believe we were looking to the past at time, people were influenced by the good old times which Miloš Zeman represented. But in my view, those times weren’t good at all.
Well that hasn’t happened for such a long time… But before the campaigns, when there was time, I danced tango, which I love. It’s been so long now, and I’m sorry about that. And it will probably still be long time to come.
No, I started dancing tango long before I met my wife. I have to admit that I wouldn’t really want to dance tango with my wife. Firstly, she’s not really into the dance, and finds it somewhat sad. She would rather dance the twist or something like that. And we plan to.
It doesn’t really make a difference. But for me, tango is truly a supreme life experience, I would say. At least as concerns the experience of music or art. In the case of tango, it is the experience of pain, tragedy, broken hearts. The music is incredibly profound, and I am fond of it. When you add movement, and if you find a partner that you get on with particularly well in dancing, then the experiences are above and beyond.
In Berlin, where there is a huge tango scene, there was always one dancer that I would dance with, and we would never talk. We never spoke, even after the dance that took us soaring to heavenly height. I would compare it to an experience of that sort. Who hasn’t lived it…
No, it’s not like that, it’s not a sexual experience.
They say that joy is a serious thing. And that when one feels happy, it’s a great feeling, but when you feel pain, it goes bone deep. And tango is largely about the pain, where you essentially experience that serious joy. That’s how I experience it.
Tango isn’t about partners, it’s a type of café dance. It’s not the jerky type. I’m talking about Argentinian tango, which was born in Buenos Aires as a form of social entertainment, when one want to dances or for tea.
An interesting fact about tango is that one always dances a series of four compositions, followed by a so-called curtain. This is the time when you have the chance, as is often the case, to bid farewell to the dancer you’re with and continue with another. It’s great. For instance, you dance two series, and the curtain gives you the opportunity to separate politely, if you don’t get on.
In other words, tango is a sort of two-and-a-half-minute romance. And if you do get on with the partner, it’s an intense emotional experience. You can’t handle it all night, so you need to take a break. And you do that by dancing with somebody else.
I love climbing on sandstone cliffs. My university friend introduced me to it, and the experiences are wonderful. But I haven’t been for almost two years.
I haven’t gained any yet. I can climb alone of course, but it’s not the same. My friends have children, so there is less time. When we were students and there were no children, we climbed more.
I’ve travelled around a bit.
I’ve already experienced emigration once, so I’ve told myself that I don’t want to do it again. This is why I’m going into politics. It’s one of the reasons. I can’t just stand by and I want to do something so that we don’t have to emigrate.
Not forever. I love my native country, I have friends here. I still play music here, which I didn’t mention. I sing… it’s the only hobby I have left. I sing in a choir, we have a chamber choir. These are all very strong ties that I don’t want to break. I can no longer imagine creating this elsewhere, it is a great value in life. My wife doesn’t want to go abroad either, her family is here.