• Czech Elections
  • The Crisis is not Solved, but Rather Intensified

  • By Jirí Málek | 29 Oct 13 | Posted under: Central and Eastern Europe , Czech Republic , Elections
  • After a government crisis in summer, early elections have been proclaimed in the Czech Republic. This weekend was the day D. The campaigning was relatively short and the program documents were to the majority not of much interest.

    This campaign was more about persons and political marketing. Polls showed positive results for the Left nearly until the date of election, but the last two weeks announced that the situation will be much more complicated and without a clear majority of the Left.

    Figures:

    Electoral results of the parties in the parliament

    • CSSD (Social democrats): 20,5 %
    • ANO 2011 (a new political formation):  18,7 %
    • KSCM  (Communist party): 14,9 %
    • TOP 09 (up to now ruling right party): 12,0 %
    • ODS (up to now a dominant right party, ruling party)
    • USVIT  (a new political formation): 6,9 %
    • KDU-CSL (Christian democrats): 6,8 %

    The turnout has been 59,5 % (lower than last election – 63 %).

    Below the threshold have been the following parties:

    • SZ (Greens): 3,2 %
    • Pirate party: 2,6 %
    • SPOZ (a party closed to president Zeman): 1,5 %
    • DSSS (The workers party, an extreme right-wing party): 0,9 %

    ANO (it means YES) is a party which was founded by a Czech multimillionaire, owner of many enterprises in food and chemical industry. He has bought at least one of nationwide newspapers some months before election. The party program is very general and it is difficult to specify whether it is right or left. One of its slogans has been “The state must be managed as a company!”.

    USVIT (Dawn of direct democracy) is a party which supports forms of direct democracy and a principle of a personal responsibility. It refuses to participate to direct governance and prefers an opposition role.


    Short considerations about causes and aftermath:

    • This election was a result of the cleavage between different concepts of neoliberal right groups, which caused the governmental crisis. This situation was combined with very low support for the right government (only max. ¼ of population) and a long recession (more than one year) in conjunction combined with exaggerated austerity policy.
    • This election was not primarily about the left and right polarization. It was mainly a protest election.
    • Social democrats were losing nearly 10 % of preferences within 6 weeks, the worst result ever. Now there are two wings in the party – one supporting president Zeman and another one independent to him. The party is not united, the fight between different groups increases and it is not possible to expect that the tension in the party will cool down soon. It is practically impossible to constitute a new government without the Social democrats but their differences make the negotiations about the new government unpredictable.
    • The party ANO is two years old. It is not easy to define this new political subject but anyway it is the second strongest party with the support of a very broad spectrum of citizens. But it is also difficult to predict its future. Some journalists and political scientists speak of a specific form of Berlusconi-style in the Czech Republic, because people are disillusioned and many believe that the solution may not be a traditional parliamentary democracy which is more and more only a formal one.
    • The Communist party KSCM is the only party (of the parties which had been in parliament during the previous session) which gained more votes than three years ago (2010 – 11,27 %). Its electoral campaign was relatively modest. The party is regarded as a representative of a subject with a critical stance to capitalism. The typical anticommunism which usually precedes any election is less and less effective. The long term political praxis of the party attempts to reflect expectations of ordinary people. Therefore the campaign was not ideological but critical to the neoliberal system and tries to present realistic solutions. Socialism is the long-term goal, but the middle-term goal is to kick-start the Czech economy, to reduce unemployment and to improve social security. The party gained 740,000 votes (the party has about 50,000 members). Only a part of the votes were protest votes. Probably KSCM will be in the opposition but it will be in a better political position and will become a more relevant player in the parliament and in the whole society. In opposition the KSCM will have to strengthen its role as a radical Left in order to integrate different left streams and will face new challenges.


    Prognosis:

    Some days after a political earthquake in Czechia it is practically impossible to predict the future development. It may be a new extra election in May 2014 (together with the European election). But political parties know that it would be recognized as their debacle. There is no certainty that the new voting would bring to parties the same gains. So we can expect a relatively long (at least some weeks, maybe months) period of political instability, feverish negotiations and political restlessness. This can be a chance for the Czech radical Left. But it also can weaken the Left, if it does not reflect the political reality and the expectations of its electorate.


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