Saturday, 16 December 2017

Pehe: Parties should side with KSČM to stop Babiš, Okamura

ČTK |
4 December 2017

Prague, Dec 2 (CTK) - Czech political parties may be wrong when writing off the Communists (KSCM) as a possible ally to help them stop the rise of Andrej Babis and Tomio Okamura, the autocrat leaders of the democracy-unfriendly ANO and SPD movements, Jiri Pehe writes in daily Pravo on Saturday.

Since the early 1990s, the Czech rightist parties have been permanently playing an evergreen about the danger of the "system-unfriendly" Communists' return to power, he writes.

As a result, many people failed to notice that a real danger to Czech democracy was emerging in the form of a really anti-system and anti-political movement, and another one in the form of rising ultra-right extremists, Pehe writes, alluding to ANO and the Freedom and Direct Democracy (SPD), respectively.

ANO, which was part of the previous government, scored a sweeping victory in the October general election and its leader Babis is forming a minority government. Okamura's SPD is also among the nine parties represented in the new Chamber of Deputies.

True, the KSCM has numerous flaws, including its insufficient coping with the past, the presence of neo-Stalinists in its ranks and its uncritical inclination to Vladimir Putin's Russia, Pehe writes.

At the same time, however, the present KSCM is a traditional party that has become a part of the country's political system in the past quarter of century, he writes.

The KSCM's opposition to NATO is a problem from the point of view of Czech democracy's international rooting, but this opposition is not something the KSCM would never swap for important or lucrative posts, Pehe writes.

As for the KSCM's cool relation to the EU, it is as cool as that of some democratic parties such as the Civic Democrats (ODS), for example, he writes.

The almost ritual struggle against the communist danger the Czech scene has waged for many years, led by the ODS, unfortunately diverted attention from different threats - from the political rise of oligarchs who had arisen within the environment of the "invisible hand of the free market," so worshipped by the ODS and other right wingers, and from the swelling islands of rightist extremism that finally merged to form a strong party, Pehe writes, alluding to ANO leader Babis, a billionaire businessman, and Okamura's SPD, respectively.

For a long time, the KSCM played a "sanitary role." Being described as an "anti-system" and "protest" party by its opponents, it continuously attracted people who were dissatisfied with the democratic developments for a broad variety of reasons, Pehe writes.

However, in recent years, when the changing political context started legitimising groupings with a really anti-system purpose, as well as right-wing extremists, the KSCM became in fact a too "pro-system" party in the eyes of dissatisfied voters. That is also why almost a half of the KSCM's electorate has switched to Babis and Okamura, Pehe writes, alluding to the KSCM's failure in the October general election.

At present, many warn against an alliance of ANO, the KSCM and the SPD. However, as the KSCM is a traditional party that is not controlled by a single autocrat but by a collective leadership elected based on the principles of intra-party democracy, it might pay dear for its alliance with ANO and the SPD, Pehe writes.

The KSCM leaders are probably aware of this, he writes.

In this connection, the other parties may be acting wrongly when they automatically write off the KSCM as their possible ally in their effort to stop Babis and Okamura, Pehe concludes, referring to the remaining six parties in parliament, which are the ODS, the Pirates, the Social Democrats (CSSD), the Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL), TOP 09 and the Mayors and Independents (STAN).

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