Saturday, 18 November 2017

LN: Government crisis may benefit Christian Democrats

ČTK |
15 May 2017

Prague, May 12 (CTK) - The current Czech government crisis can most benefit the junior ruling Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL), and this may apply in the long term, Jaroslav Veis writes in daily Lidove noviny (LN) on Friday.

Veis writes that the crisis has deep as well as shallower causes. The deep ones include the "unhappy" decision to introduce the direct presidential election that returned the "populist" Milos Zeman back into politics. He has been trying to throw the constitution off balance since then.

Another cause was the entry of the anti-system ANO movement of billionaire businessman Andrej Babis into a system that really functions according to other rules than a firm, Veis writes.

A third cause is the long-term behaviour of the senior government Social Democrats (CSSD), who will probably never find agreement on whether they want to be a modern European left, or a traditional employees' party, Veis writes.

He adds that the party, including its chairman and Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka, only behaves resolutely when cornered.

However, even the shallower causes are important. This is true of President Milos Zeman's desire to take his revenge on Sobotka for that he was among the Social Democrats who did not support him in the presidential election by parliament in 2003, when he lost to Vaclav Klaus, Veis writes.

Babis's decision to buy the Mafra publishing house, including LN, was bad. It brought him more problems than benefits and in addition, it was a foolish decision if it was to serve the influencing of the public space. Donald Trump has showed the world that social networks can do this better, Veis writes.

He writes that the biggest loser now is Zeman, who wants to hold the post for another five years after the early 2018 election.

His first excess was the coarse attempt to accept a resignation that Sobotka did not tender. The awkwardness of the moment will hardly be ever overcome, Veis writes.

His second misstep was when he supported Babis with a peculiar interpretation of the constitution and the third was his self-complacency with which he made it clear that a trip to China, for which he left on Thursday, is more important to him than the developments at home, Veis writes.

The convocation of a meeting of the heads of the CSSD, ANO and KDU-CSL to Liberec, north Bohemia, where he was on a three-tour, just on the eve of his departure for China shows that he still has some fundamental instincts, Veis writes.

He writes that if the CSSD insists on Babis's dismissal by Zeman and does not accept his proposed deal that both Babis and Sobotka resign, not to say holding an early general election, Zeman will face a competence dispute before the Constitutional Court and he will have to give up.

His reluctance to do so would be a really cogent reason for filing a constitutional complaint against him and impeachment of the president, Veis writes.

As for Sobotka, he has proved for a second time that he can act resolutely in crisis situations, which he showed in the Lany coup, as a meeting between Zeman and some CSSD leaders after the 2013 general election aimed to oust Sobotka as the party chairman is called, but this is not enough, Veis writes.

In addition, the attempt not to turn Babis into a martyr, which stood at the beginning of the current turbulences, was not successful. As a result of the current developments, some may really consider Babis a martyr, Veis writes.

Nevertheless, Babis, too will long feel a headache after the Chamber of Deputies approved a resolution saying that in his public appearances, Babis repeatedly lied and abused his media to compromise his political rivals, Veis writes.

Turning to the KDU-CSL, he writes that their cautious behaviour can naturally be interpreted as their traditional double-dealing, Veis writes.

Yet, many disappointed and undecided voters will welcome the "Calm Force" as the KDU-CSL's late leader Josef Lux called the party, Veis writes.

If the KDU-CSL together with the Mayors and Independents (STAN) win more than the needed 10 percent in the general election, they may become a significant political force, though not the strongest one, Veis writes.

But they should be cautious because some in their ranks, for instance, Zlin Region Governor and senator Jiri Cunek, are on good terms with Zeman, Babis as well as Sobotka's rivals within the CSSD, Veis writes.

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