Communists Gain Momentum in Czech Republic

(Angus Reid Global Monitor) – The Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia (KSCM) has increased its standing in the Czech Republic as a legislative ballot nears, according to a poll by Median. 16.8 per cent of respondents would vote for the Communists, up four points since February.

The opposition Czech Social Democratic Party (CSSD) is in first place with 27.0 per cent, followed by the Civic Democratic Party (ODS) with 21.2 per cent. Support is lower for Tradition Responsibility Prosperity 09 (TOP 09), the Christian and Democratic Union – Czech People’s Party (KDU-CSL), the Green Party (SZ) and Public Affairs (VV).

In June 2006, Czech voters renewed the Chamber of Representatives. Final results gave the ODS 35.58 per cent of all cast ballots, followed by the CSSD with 32.32 per cent. Czech parties require at least five per cent of the vote to earn seats under the country’s proportional representation system. The final tallies gave the ODS, the KDU-CSL and the SZ 10 seats in the lower house, with the remaining 100 seats going to the CSSD and the KSCM.

The tie among rival factions led to a long political stalemate. In January 2007, Czech president Vaclav Klaus re-appointed ODS leader Mirek Topolanek as prime minister.

In March 2009, Topolanek’s government finally lost one of many non-confidence motions tabled by the opposition since 2007. The last motion was in part incited by opposition to the government’s handling of the economy. The leaders of the ODS, KDU-CSL, SZ and CSSD agreed to form an interim cabinet of non-partisan members. Klaus appointed Jan Fischer—a non-partisan, little known public servant who had been heading the Czech Statistical Office (CSU)—to serve as interim prime minister. Fischer took office in May.

Fischer was originally slated to serve until early October 2009, when a new legislative election was supposed to take place. The ballot was postponed due to a Constitutional Court decision, and was re-scheduled for May 28 and May 29, 2010.

In March, during a photo shoot for a magazine that targets a gay audience, Topolanek compared a gay minister, Gustav Slamecka, with caretaker prime minister Fischer, saying: “When things really get tough, really tough, then I have the feeling that Slamecka, as a minister, gives way. And that Fischer is simply a Jew, not a gay, and he gives way earlier still. That’s got nothing to do with his being gay, that’s a matter of character; it’s not linked to him being gay.” Topolanek also said that the church “has got control of people by means of brainwashing.”

On Apr. 12, following the public outcry over his comments, Topolanek tendered his resignation as leader and was replaced by Petr Necas. The former prime minister declared: “I will never be a stilted-style politician who would change his opinions in accordance with the recommendations of marketing advisers. I will not use empty sentences or express myself in a roundabout way and vaguely.”

Polling Data

What party list would you vote for in the next parliamentary election?

Apr. 1 Feb. 2 Dec. 17
Czech Social Democratic Party (CSSD) 27.0% 32.0% 29.3%
Civic Democratic Party (ODS) 21.2% 27.8% 23.4%
Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia (KSCM) 16.8% 12.8% 15.9%
Tradition Responsibility Prosperity 09 (TOP 09) 7.5% 9.3% 9.9%
Christian and Democratic Union – Czech People’s Party (KDU-CSL) 7.4% 7.4% 6.9%
Green Party (SZ) 4.8% 4.3% 4.0%
Public Affairs (VV) 4.3% 2.4% 2.3%