Thursday, 18 October 2018

Chovanec to run for Social Democrat leader

ČTK |
29 January 2018

Plzen, West Bohemia, Jan 28 (CTK) - Czech Social Democrat (CSSD) acting head Milan Chovanec, former interior minister, will run for the party's chairman at the February election congress, he told CTK on Sunday.

He decided so after winning support at the regional conference of the Plzen branch on Sunday, he said.

The CSSD regional branch's conference in Zlin, south Moravia, also nominated Chovanec for party chairman later on Sunday.

Moreover, the CSSD South Bohemia regional branch nominated South Bohemia Governor Jiri Zimola for CSSD leader at its conference on Sunday.

The CSSD will elect a new leadership at a national congress to be held in Hradec Kralove, east Bohemia, on February 18.

Along with Zimola, Chovanec's rival candidates will be also current CSSD deputy head Jan Hamacek, nominated by the Hradec Kralove (east Bohemia) regional organisation, former military counter-intelligence chief Miroslav Krejcik and Olomouc Mayor Antonin Stanek. Besides, the Liberec (north Bohemia) regional branch approved the candidacy of local mayor Romana Zatecka.

Chovanec said he would like to succeed and offer a programme of the CSSD's further course in terms of the internal party debate, its communication with the public and a debate whether the party should enter a government.

The CSSD must return to the left part of the political spectrum, Chovanec said.

He also said he would like to see representatives of all opinion streams within the CSSD in the new leadership.

The extraordinary congress was convoked in reaction to the party's debacle in the last October general election in which the CSSD, senior member of the previous coalition government, gained only 7.3 percent of the vote, compared to 20.5 percent four years ago, and 15 seats in the 200-seat lower house. It left for opposition.

Before the election, Bohuslav Sobotka, then PM, stepped down as the party chairmen due to the plummeting preferences last June and he was replaced by Chovanec.

Re-elected President Milos Zeman accepted Chovanec's invitation to attend the election congress on Saturday.

Zeman, former CSSD chairman and PM in 1998-2002, who left the CSSD in 2007, was not invited to the CSSD previous congress that re-elected Sobotka as party chairman.

Zeman had quite tense relations with part of the CSSD of late, while some Social Democrats supported him repeatedly.

There have long been two opposed opinion camps in the CSSD - the conservative one, whose representatives are mainly Zimola and former regional governor Michal Hasek as well as Jaroslav Foldyna and Zdenek Skromach, and the liberal one of Hamacek, Sobotka and the forme ministers in Sobotka's cabinet, Michaela Marksova and Jiri Dienstbier.

The long-term tense relations between supporters of Sobotka and Hasek culminated after the 2013 general election in "a coup" when Hasek and his group, with silent support of Zeman, attempted to topple Sobotka from the helm. However, Sobotka resisted the pressure, strengthened his position and became PM, while Hasek resigned from the party leadership.

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