What’s next for Czech Republic after the elections?

Read few comments.

Questions:

1. What kind of post-elections scenario do you expect for Czech Republic if you look at the results?

2. With catastrophic result for ODS and bad result for CSSD is this really the beginning of the end for previously big parties as many suggest?

Answers:

Sean Hanley, Senior Lecturer in East European Politics, University College London

1. In the short term it looks like a minority CSSD or CSSD/KDU-CSL ‘tolerated’ by ANO2011 is the only feasible government. It is uncertain, however, just how formal or specific any agreement between CSSD and Babis would be. In the medium term, however, there is a big question mark over how stable or unified the ANO2011 parliamentary group will be given that it is a ‘non-standard’ new grouping with a vague programme seemingly dominated by it wealthy founder. As the parliamentary group of OKamura’s movement stands even less chance of remaining united (for the same reasons) and there will be splits and realignment on the right, it is easy to foresee a situation where parliament (especially on the centre and centre-right) becomes a morass of factions and independents, which will make governing even more difficult, as it would require complex deal-making on every issue to patch together a parliamentary majority. If this happens we might see the emergence of Communist-Social Democrat co-operation and it is perhaps telling that Sobotka’s first talks were with the Communists who are one of the few remaining points of stability in the Czech party system. However, even if they can work as an effective bloc in a fragmented and chaotic parliament the two are well short of majority.

It is is also unclear how president Zeman would react to an unstable situation or a weak CSSD-led government struggling to govern the country. We may yet see another presidential government or further early elections in a year or two.

A lot depends on how good a party-builder and party manager Andrej Babis is. I would not under-estimate him but he will have tough job maintaining ANO2011.

2. It is certainly the end of the Czech right as we have known it and of ODS as a major political player and Czech party system as we have known it since 1990s – a fairly stable arrangement based on the twin pillars of two large ‘standard’ parties of centre-left and centre-right. Paradoxically, the meltdown of ODS will be one of CSSD’s difficulties: the Social Democrats who were used to straightforward competition with a well defined right-wing opponent are new moving into quite different political territory, terra incognita.

It is too early to suggest that the Social Democrats are heading inexorably for the same fate as ODS, although there are parallels between the position of ODS in /010 and CSSD now and in the general problems of corruption (kmotri, velrybari). However, the current situation may also hold an opportunity for the party to build itself into a dominant player if it can ‘do a Fico’ (which I am sceptical about).

similarly, it is possible to conceive of a unified centre-right bloc/party re-emerging in some years – perhaps even around ANO – although again I would again bet against this.

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