Sunday, 22 October 2017

Právo: Breach of coalition with STAN Czech KDU-ČSL head's defeat

ČTK |
21 July 2017

Prague, July 20 (CTK) - Czech ruling Christian Democrat (KDU-CSL) head Pavel Belobradek suffered a defeat when his party rejected an election coalition with the opposition Mayors and Independents (STAN), Lukas Jelinek writes in Pravo today under the title of "Christian Democrats took fright at their courage."

The KDU-CSL broader leadership and national conference decided on Tuesday to back out of an election coalition with STAN and offered STAN places on the party's lists of candidates for the October general election. STAN is to make a decision next week.

Jelinek writes that Belobradek was defeated mainly by his rival Jiri Cunek, Zlin Region governor and senator, who was opposed to the coalition from the very beginning.

The two other government parties, the Social Democrats (CSSD) and ANO, have lost an audacious rival, while the opposition conservative TOP 09 and to some degree the rightist opposition Civic Democrats (ODS), too, do not have to be afraid so much of their voters switching over to the planned coalition any more, Jelinek writes.

By its decision, the KDU-CSL reacted to the public opinion polls, according to which KDU-CSL/STAN would not gain the 10 percent required of a two-party coalition, while a single party needs only 5 percent to enter the Chamber of Deputies.

Jelinek writes that the decision to keep the KDU-CSL/STAN tandem, but to present joint lists of candidates only may seem to be a fraud even though the biggest shame is the election law that discriminates against election coalitions. They must win more votes than a single party.

Jelinek writes that the KDU-CSL and STAN'S coming closer together was predetermined by their position in the political spectrum. Both are centrist entities with a big coalition potential and a tendency to behave in a constructive rather than confrontational way.

Yet, there is one big gap between them. The KDU-CSL is a historical party guarding the legacy of the ancestors and defending the conquered political space, Jelinek writes.

STAN, for its part, is a dynamic movement that wants to grow and strengthen, he writes.

The KDU-CSL fared best in the post-communist period under Josef Lux (1956-99) who firmed the party's position in the 1990s and then focused on winning new members, voters and partners. He acted after the model of the German Christian Democrats, Jelinek writes.

He writes that Lux brought intellectuals and activists to the party and at the end of his life, he formed the Quad-Coalition with the Freedom Union (US), the Civic Democratic Alliance (ODA) and the Democratic Union (DEU).

The coalition won more than 20 percent in some regions in 2000. In the 2002 general election, the KDU-CSL ran in coalition with the US-DEU. It won more than 14 percent and a position in the government with the CSSD, Jelinek writes.

In the rightist governments, the KDU-CSL did not fare well. In addition, Cunek and Cyril Svoboda, who headed the party at that time, bet on a return to conservative policy, which Lux partially replaced with liberal thinking, Jelinek writes.

In 2010, the KDU-CSL did not get to the Chamber of Deputies and returned to it in the early election in 2013 thanks to the enthusiasm of Belobradek and his deputy Marian Jurecka, Jelinek writes.

STAN was founded in 2009 and it has built for itself a good background in local politics. That is why TOP 09 took its members on its lists of candidates in 2010 and they together won 17 percent of the vote. In 2013, however, the gain dropped by 5 percent, Jelinek writes.

He writes that STAN felt marginalised by TOP 09 and pride took the upper hand in the movement. It agreed with TOP 09 to terminate their alliance at the end of last year.

It was hoped that the transparent KDU-CSL/STAN coalition will profit from STAN'S popularity in the Bohemian regions and the KDU-CSL's in Moravia. Together, they might have won over voters in large towns even though their base is in the country, Jelinek writes.

A number of STAN members refuse to be again nothing but an appendage even though the movement has a dignified position on the lists of candidates with the KDU-CSL which have already been formed and which promises them seats in the Chamber of Deputies, Jelinek writes.

He writes that STAN's decision-making next week will be difficult. Czech politics needs a counter-weight to the ANO marketing project of businessman billionaire Andrej Babis and the CSSD alone will not manage this role.

But the role the cautious KDU-CSL has chosen does not lead to this goal. Voters favour the self-confident, Jelinek writes.

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