Bohuslav Sobotka will be appointed new Czech Prime Minister

What do you think is the strongest asset(s) of Bohuslav Sobotka and what about his biggest weakness, and why? Read few comments.

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

Sobotka is an intelligent, shrewd and quite tough politician who seems to have a good sense of the internal balance of power his own party and to work hard and effectiveky to built support within it – his comprehensive out manouevring of the Zemanite coup after the election showed all these qualities. He also seems quite perceptive about trends in Czech politics and the underlying weaknesses of CSSD – which echo those of ODS – and the risks of new podnikatelske strany like ANO.

He also benefits from being under-estimated by opponents (a priceless commodity in politics) as a was also clear in the Zemanite coup.

His weaknesses are a rather narrow natural base of support in his own party and his party’s position in the coalition in the weakest ever of any Czech prime minister’s party. He also suffers a certain geekishness in his image, limited charisma and an inability to play the populist strongman in the manner of Fico, Zeman or Paroubek. He probably is also not quite up to the playing the role of the charismatic moderniser (a ‘Czech Obama’ or ‘Czech Tony Blair) which Jiri Dienstbier does more plausibly. He comes across as a spokesman or an analyst rather than a leader.

His greater underlying weaknesses, I think, are that while he seems to see big picture – and the big issues – facing CSSD, the government Czech parties and the Czech left with some clarity, he has limited options- and no very obvious strategy – for dealing with them and seems to react to events (often with some skill) rather than shaping them. He was unable to politically counter the rise of ANO but very clearly saw it coming – now has to work with it. He is now quite rightly thinking about the future of that party but seems to have no strategy for handling it and – despite his reputation as moderniser – it is unclear what direction he really wants to take the Social Democrats in.

Dariusz Kałan, Central Europe analyst, Polish Institute of International Affairs

I think, we have no reason to doubt in Sobotka’s personal honesty, the fact that is quite stunning bearing in mind many other former CSSD leaders, who were mired in corruption or family scandals. This may somehow help restore confidence in politicians; he already topps the political popularity charts, despite a reputation for being rather short on charisma. He is also a very experienced politician serving as a Member of the Parliament since 1996 (!) and a finance minister. What in turn I find the biggest weakness is his position in the CSSD. Inside his party, Sobotka is facing stiff competition from deputy head Michal Hasek, who is on better terms with President Milos Zeman.


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