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Friday, October 25, 2013

Czech election day: Which political party will prove the least unpopular?

Someone is unhappy with the way things are going
Czech artist David Cerny is best known for his satire of EU nations that caused both outrage and amusement across the EU. Today his target is closer to home - the Czech political class and in particular Czech President Zeman, erecting a giant sculpture on the river Vltava that needs little explanation. Cerny's feelings are widely shared and point to a general disillusionment with the political class ahead of elections on today and tommorow.

The elections themselves have been brought forward by seven months following the collapse of the centre-right ODS led coalition following a combination of bizarre corruption allegations involving former PM Necas' mistress, now ex-wife and state intelligence services (part of a wider deterioration in democratic standards across Central and Eastern Europe). President Zeman then appointed Jiri Rusnok (who served as Finance Minster when Zeman was the PM between 2001-02) to lead a caretaker government which fell after it failed to win parliamentary support. In other words, a right old mess.

Here is the latest poll compared to the 2010 results:

The big factor here is the fragmentation of the established mainstream centre-right ODS party. Taking up the slack are a kaleidoscope of small untested centre-right and independent parties centred on colourful individuals, including Úsvit founded by a Japanese/Czech businessman, ANO founded by a Czech billionaire and TOP09 led by former foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg. President Zeman's own hopes of a breakthrough for his SPOZ party have been hampered by revulsion at his own politicking. One of these parties is likely to be the junior partner for the social democrats (CCSD) who are clearly in the lead and who have said they would prefer not governing with the unreformed Communists (KSCM) who command 18% of the vote and resurrect bad memories for some (although this is also a possibility).

It was once thought that the Czech Republic had escaped the chaotic politics of the region by settling down into a two party system, the Social Democrats and the centre-right ODS. It now appears Czech politics is just as turbulent as many other former communist EU states, where parties have short lives and bad endings.

Moreover, the marginalisation of the ODS will be a setback for David Cameron, as the party is a key ally of the Conservatives in the European Parliament and under Necas, the Czech Republic was the only other country not to sign up the fiscal treaty. It is hard to see a social democrat led government being naturally on board for the kind of pro-competitiveness reforms that Europe so badly needs.

1 comment:

C.B.Ross said...

"... a general disillusionment with the political class ..."

I suspect that a great many people in the UK share that particular disillusionment!