Wednesday, 26 April 2017

KDU-ČSL and TOP 09 heads have problems to crack

ČTK |
28 December 2016

Prague, Dec 27 (CTK) - The chairmen of the Czech junior government Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL) and the opposition rightist TOP 09, Pavel Belobradek and Miroslav Kalousek, respectively, had no reason to rejoice during the Christmas holidays, Lukas Jelinek wrote in daily Pravo on Tuesday.

Belobradek, 40, who has led the party since 2010, may be faced with a serious rival in the election of the chairperson next year. His first deputy chairman and agriculture minister, Marian Jurecka, said recently he is seriously pondering about running for the party head, Jelinek writes.

He writes that this may mean nothing because Jurecka did so in the past as well and he eventually gave way to Belobradek. The two have together succeeded in returning the party to parliament in a relatively good condition in 2013, Jelinek writes.

However, if Jurecka, 36, eventually forgot about the dilemma of combining top politics with a five-children family and decided to seek party chairmanship, this would most probably trigger a discussion on the KDU-CSL's strategy for the forthcoming period, Jelinek writes.

He writes that paving the way for a closer cooperation with Finance Minister and centrist ANO head Andrej Babis, whom many expect to become the prime minister after the autumn 2017 general election, could be part of the strategy.

Belobradek, on the contrary, has tense relations with Babis. Under him, the KDU-CSL'S identity is clear. It is a conservative party with social accents, whose programme is compatible with both the right and left, Jelinek writes.

He writes that Belobradek has anchored the party in a government which is also comprised of the senior Social Democrats (CSSD).

But now, he is courting the extra-parliamentary Mayors and Independents (STAN) movement, which has terminated its alliance with TOP 09 as from the end of December and which fared relatively well in the recent regional elections.

Another man in the KDU-CSL who does not conceal his liking for Babis is the ambitious senator and Zlin Region governor, Jiri Cunek. After the autumn regional elections, he boasted about that Babis wanted him to be ANO's regional election leader, which, he said, he rejected and remained faithful to the KDU-CSL, Jelinek writes.

Cunek, 47, was in the limelight in 2006. In his capacity as mayor of Vsetin, north Moravia, he had rent dodgers moved from a devastated house in the town centre outside the Zlin Region border and another 230 Romanies to tin containers outside the town centre.

Culture Minister Daniel Herman (KDU-CSL) is also on good terms with Babis. He helped Babis out of a difficult situation into which he got himself with an indecent statement about Romanies in connection with the Lety concentration camp, Jelinek writes.

Babis, for his part, supported Herman who was criticised for his official meeting with the Dalai Lama, Jelinek writes.

After STAN cut cooperation with Kalousek, his proposal for a pre-election bloc with the rightist opposition Civic Democrats (ODS) was rebuffed, Jelinek writes.

He adds that this was an end to Kalousek's dream of integration of the right.

Both the ODS and TOP 09 can still attempt to win over some interesting names from outside their ranks for their lists of candidates, but this is all what the two parties can do for opening themselves, Jelinek writes.

He writes that not even a large alliance of the major rightist parties can threaten ANO, the major rival of which is the leftist Social Democracy.

The ODS and TOP 09 can do nothing but focus on reinforcing their own identity, Jelinek adds.

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