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Vulgarity is not part of the president’s role.

Fast confession - Michal Horáček: Why I should be president

Michaela Vraná
15.Aug 2017
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9 minutes

This brilliant song writer describes himself as someone who does not know very much. But what he does know is how to understand people. However, this is only one of the many reasons he is daring to stand for the presidency. This interview is not only about his candidacy, but also touches on his marriage, desires and friendship with the composer, Petr Hapka. 

Michal Horáček s rodinou
Michal Horáček s rodinou

What is currently taking up most of your time?

You probably won’t be surprised when I tell you that it’s the campaign.

How much are you yourself working on it and how much is being left to your team?

I am working on everything, I’m managing it. I’m not the product of some marketing agency. To get into specifics, I’ve spent the past thirteen months travelling the country. I’ve visited dozens and dozens of different cities, towns and villages, as well as places completely hidden away, and everywhere I go I visit the locals. It is demanding in that I want to learn as much as possible and in as much detail as possible. I’m not going there to lecture them, but to find out about their concerns and also about what they do. So, for example, in a single day I visited a plate glass manufacturer, then another where they make masts (laughs), then a factory which produces the best diamond tools in the world. I want to learn something about everywhere I go and because I don’t know anything it’s quite an effort to follow all their explanations. I then get together with people in the evenings.

Why did you decide to run for the presidency?

Because I told myself that we can’t carry on like this. It’s not simply a question of how the current president is playing his role as president, although it’s not only his vulgarism, but the vulgarism of our entire political representation that is alarming. This is not just about getting rid of vulgarity, which is basically superficial. A cultivated person is also open and transparent and this applies to all political structures and all politicians. People should know everything about politicians, and especially about their president! About who they work with, their relationships, their health and their financial situation. I would also add: a directly elected president must be radically independent, because this is the only way they can plausibly represent the people and their interests. I think this is fundamentally important. The president is supposed to counterbalance the machinations of political parties and prevent them from defending their own interests at the expense of their electorate. I have some experience in this area because I spent many years with gamblers and I can recognise a cheat.

Byt s výhledem na Prahu - Karlín - 308m
Byt s výhledem na Prahu - Karlín - 308m, Praha 8

Was there one particular moment when you felt that this was the last straw, when you thumped the table and said you were going to run?

Yes, it’s always the last straw (laughs). This particular one was when our president went to China and announced that he was going to teach them how to stabilise their society. He said it in a country where lots of people are in jail as a so-called “punishment” … Punishment for what? Punishment for standing up for human rights, for having certain democratic ideals, as we do? I don’t want to have a stabilised society here, we’ve already experienced that.

Do you give out autographs in the street?

If someone asks me, of course. Gladly.

And do you give them out as a songwriter or as a politician?

I give them out as Michal Horáček. I don’t know what that means to people now. Maybe both together.

Have you managed to have a holiday this year?

I have a small daughter, who is now enjoying the most beautiful holiday of her life, because it’s just before she starts school for the first time. I can now talk to her, she’s great company, very perceptive and wonderful to be with. It would be a sin for both of us to miss out on that if I worked all the time. So every now and then I try to take the opportunity of spending time with her and my wife. Tomorrow, for example, we’re going to Chlumec nad Cidlinou, where there’s a farm for lion cubs. I’ve never seen it so it will be an interesting experience for my wife and myself as well, not just for her. I also want to show here the amazing places I have discovered over the past thirteen months. Like Neratov in the Orlický mountains.

Did she go to camp?

No, but she definitely will next year. I’m all in favour. She needs it, she really likes being with other children.

Won’t you worry about her?


Do you treat your youngest daughter differently to how you behaved towards your older children?

I don’t think so, but I do have to publicly rebuke myself here, because a person who is involved in artistic creation is selfish. When he gets an idea, he has to work on it and doesn’t see or hear anything else, or when he is looking for a rhyme it seems far more important than spending time with his family. It’s similar now with this campaign. Sometimes I kick myself and tell myself I’ve gone too far and try to spend time with them and be happy and learn.

When you write your lyrics, where do you look for inspiration?

They’re just about people. I’ve been a public figure for thirty years now and for thirty years I’ve been writing lyrics, which sometimes someone kindly sets to music and someone might distribute and play and people like them or they mean something to them. All these songs originated from meeting people. I actually know very little about life, but I understand people. I am kind of a fisher of people. I love it when someone opens up to me and tells me something they wouldn’t have said otherwise.

Do you also write political texts?

Of course, that will be the second high point of my candidacy. You can look forward to speeches that will be … let’s say, refreshing.

Have you prepared anything yet?

No, you count your chickens once they’re hatched. But the most important priority and highlight of my campaign is my beautiful wife Michaela – an inspirational and hard-working woman.

What will happen if you lose? Will your ego be able to take it, do you know how to lose?

That’s not a very good question for someone who spent so long in the gaming sector. Betting teaches you a lot. It teaches you how to behave in a civilised manner in the sense that, when you win, you cannot let the others know how clever you are, or that they failed, and at the same time you have to learn how to lose, not to blame other people, events, feel betrayed or whine. You have to approach both with a slight smile. It’s difficult to learn and I admit it took me years. It’s very difficult for everyone, but I’ve had training. I wouldn’t see it as a failure of people preferred someone else as their president. Why would I? Because that’s their sacred right, and I believe in that above all else. But if I can bring something good and worthwhile into the political environment, like complete transparency, that will be a kind of victory. If only, when the next elections come round, someone would say: “That Horáček disclosed everything last time, so maybe you ought to too, ladies and gentlemen.” That would be a nice thing, wouldn’t it?

Is there anyone you have not yet worked with in music and would like to?

Bob Dylan.

Luxusní byt na prodej s terasou a výhledem
Luxusní byt na prodej s terasou a výhledem, Praha 1

You are best known for your collaboration with Petr Hapka. What was your friendship like?

Dynamic. He was unpredictable. He arrogantly relied on God’s mercy and always waited for some inspiration to come from above, to get it for free. So he never worked. I can never remember Petr Hapka working. But as soon as he got an idea, he sat down at the piano and devoted himself to huddling over it, he loved doing it and never considered it to be work. But I never saw that part. He did it on his out-of-tune piano at Okoř, then called me in Roudnice and said: “I’ve got it!” So I was never there when he was working on his own, just like he was never around when I was searching for rhymes and the right words for my lyrics. It was only when we were in the studio and recording different instrument that it resembled work. Michal Pavlíček might come in and play the guitar. From time to time we would modestly say something, because how can you teach Pavlíček what to do with a guitar … (laughs). And then some singer would come along, and we might mention something sometimes, but how can you teach Hana Hegerová to sing chansons? They were just suggestions. But that was the best.

Did you ever argue about your work? Where each of you wanted something different …

That happened surprisingly rarely. I stood up for my words and he stood up for his music. So it only happened once or twice in thirty years that I didn’t want something. And the same went for him.

Would you like to have another child?

I have reached an age where it gets tricky. I was sixty-five the day before yesterday.

Belated congratulations!

Thank you! (laughs) If you ask me what I really want, without taking into consideration my actual situation in the world, I would like to have ten children. It is honestly the best, most beautiful and most emotional thing anyone can experience – being with children.

You have two daughters and one son in total. What’s better – girls or boys?

I think the most important is for the child to be healthy. Whether they become lawyers or supermarket assistants is irrelevant, as is whether they are more or less misbehaved. I have been helping people in distress for the past twenty-five years, often children with cerebral palsy. We assume that it’s normal to have a normal child, who is a bit naughty, but otherwise thrives. That’s not true. When someone has a healthy child they should appreciate it. Everything else comes light years behind this incredible fact.

Your daughter is going to start her first year at school. What kind of pupil do you think she’ll be?


She likes to learn?

Her mother is an A-grade student, a perfectionist who approaches everything with enormous passion and is well organised. I think Julie has inherited that from her. Fortunately for her. I wasn’t like that.

What were you like as a pupil?


But you ended up with a doctorate …

Yes, but forty years later!

So you got your second wind?

You can believe it! When I was at university at twenty-one I was one of the worst. By the way, it was the Faculty of Journalism where we were taught such regime propaganda that I wasn’t even interested in learning, because it wasn’t important. But I might not have done any better elsewhere. But then I started again twenty-five years later and not only was I older than my fellow students, but also most of the professors. It would have been rude for such an old bloke (laughs) not to be prepared and not to attend lectures. I would have died of shame! But I also really did want to learn. I studied cultural anthropology and it fascinates me. I guzzled it up.

So you chose the right subject?

Yes, for me.

Can you imagine studying anything else?

Yes, lots of things. English or history or archaeology. It would definitely be in the humanities.

What does money mean to you?

Money opens up something huge, which is called freedom. Like the freedom to go to the best school available. Or the freedom to be treated by the best doctors. And the freedom to travel the world. And the freedom to spend your time doing what you want and not what someone has told you to do. It opens up tremendous possibilities and because of this I place great value on money. Also because it comes from a creative activity. But that doesn’t mean that it’s some kind of idol that limits or dictates to me, not that at all. I always use it as a tool, as a key to the doors to freedom. What you do when you pass through the door you opened up with that key is up to you. Money won’t live your life for you.

What do you spend most money on?

Travelling and books.

Do spend much time deciding what to wear? Are you interested in fashion?

My wife is a costume designer, for instance she is making the costumes for the První republika film, she makes hundreds of costumes and really understands it, so she takes one look and tells me what to buy.

So your wife advises you on fashion?

It’s sometimes better to remember to ask her opinion. Not that she buys things for me and brings them home. But sometimes she might buy me a suit for my birthday. But I wouldn’t say I was interested in fashion.

You are always very well turned out though, do you sometimes wear tracksuit bottoms or casual clothes?

Casual clothes definitely and also sportswear because I play tennis. Sometimes I run and swim, so I wear a swimsuit, which is also a type of casual wear.

What do you wear when you write?

Jeans and white shirts. I like white shirts with rolled-up sleeves, they are the most comfortable and I feel I look good in them. Tracksuit bottoms would be a bit much for me, a bit too … baggy, I’m not sure how to say it.

Is there something that you have not yet done and would still like to do?

Masses of things! Almost everything! I suddenly look round and I’m sixty-five and I discover that I have managed to do almost none of the things I wanted to do.

Like what?

I still haven’t written a great novel, I still haven’t been to all the places in the world I wanted to visit, I still haven’t met the people I wanted to meet, I still haven’t listened to all the music … I’ve also got a lot of books at home and they accumulate faster than I manage to read them. There is so much.

Would you try adrenaline sports?

I’m not a great fan of adrenaline. Or maybe I am, but not in the physical sense. The presidential campaign is full of adrenaline.

What are your professional goals – apart from becoming president.

I don’t have any just now, I can only ever focus on one thing. I always latch onto something and then stick to it obstinately and passionately. So I don’t have a backup plan at the moment. I would like to write an album of spiritual songs, but not religious ones! I’m a practising Catholic but that would be a kind of settlement... I would also like to meet new young writers, who keep growing up. And to do new things, to make people cry or laugh, to make them experience strong emotions.


Fast confession:

Who should become the next president?

Michal Horáček

Who shouldn’t become the next president?

Anyone but Michal Horáček.

Politics or writing lyrics?


Are you more a diplomat or do you just say what’s on your heart?

I am a diplomat who speaks from his heart.

A peaceful retirement or a busy life?

A busy life.

Which of your songs is your favourite?

V penzionu Svět.

What do you notice first in women?

The fact that they are women. The more womanly the women are, it’s just the best.

Favourite musician?

Michal Pavlíček.

Luxurious room in a hotel, or a tent?

Definitely the hotel.

What would you never bet on?

Anything associated with violence or death.

What do you like most about women?

They say everything, but I don’t know, you’ll have to ask them.

What annoys you most?


Do you know how to bluff?


Karel Gott, or Petr Hapka?

Petr Hapka.
The interviewee questions the interviewer:

What would you like to ask me?

I can see you’re still a long way off forty, but I will ask you this – do you want to know what you’ll be doing when you’re forty?
So I’ll tell you like this. This is the Čtyřicítka (Forty) album, and these are the stories you’ll live through. In many years’ time.
Thank you!
My pleasure.
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