Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Christian Democrats, STAN sign election pact

ČTK |
13 April 2017

Prague, April 12 (CTK) - Czech Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL) and the Mayors and Independents (STAN) signed a cooperation pact for the autumn election to the Chamber of Deputies today.

The new grouping is to be a strong centrist alternative for hundreds of thousands of voters, KDU-CSL leader Pavel Belobradek said.

He said the entity wanted "the Czech Republic not to fall victim to a minority government with support of radical parties, such as the Communists, and at the same ot wants to avert a situation where one strong party would concentrate power in its hands."

Belobradek said its representatives wanted to be a new generation of politicians.

STAN leader Petr Gazdik said Belobradek was a candidate for the post of prime minister of the Czech Republic.

"We can see it is necessary to replace the generation of people you have known for quite a long time both from politics and the business environment," Belobradek said.

He said this may apply to TOP 09 leader Miroslav Kalousek, for instance.

Belobradek also mentioned the politicians who are currently the Christian Democrats's partners in the government, specifically Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka (Social Democrats, CSSD) and ANO leader Andrej Babis.

"We differ by not being those who came right from the school benches to the parliamentary benches and stayed in them for the past 20 years," Gazdik said.

The talks on the coalition took about three months. The pact is yet to be finally confirmed by the May national congress of the KDU-CSL.

Belobradek said he did not doubt the supreme party body would endorse the pact.

However, some KDU-CSL members are opposed to the agreement. Criticism has mainyl been heard in Moravian regions, where the KDU-CSL has been traditionally strong and it does not need allying with other entities.

In addition to the KDU-CSL and STAN, the cooperation agreement was also supported by ten other movements or regional parties. Five of them joined it today.

Gazdik said he expected further partners to be won over.

Belobradek, who is deputy prime minister and minister for science and research in Sobotka's government, said the coalition was an answer to the hundreds of thousands of voters who were looking for a sensible choice.

He said it promised the voters to pursue Western orientation, active membership of NATO and the EU, free discussion and parliamentary democracy.

"We reject centralisation of power. People should make decisions in their municipalities, in their families. We are representatives of the parties that push through strong municipalities, strong regions and who believe this is the correct path for all of us," Belobradek said.

The KDU-CSL/STAN coalition will have to gain at least 10 percent of the vote to enter the Chamber of Deputies, the lower house of Czech parliament, while a party running on its own only needs 5 percent.

The total support for the coalition was ranging around this level in March public opinion polls.

However, daily Mlada fronta Dnes (MfD) writes today that the new coalition could gain up to 22 percent of the vote.

Belobradek did not conceal high ambitions today. "We are joining the struggle with the resolve to really fight for the highest levels," he said.

In addition to cooperation in the general election, the KDU-CSL and STAN want to find a joint presidential candidate "who will be a decent rival of (incumbent President) Milos Zeman," Gazdik said.

The direct presidential election will be held in early 2018. Zeman has decided to seek re-election.

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