Wednesday, 17 October 2018

Pehe: KSČM trapped by its rejection of more troops in missions

ČTK |
18 May 2018

Prague, May 17 (CTK) - The Czech Communists (KSCM) seem to be trapped by their own resolution not to back a planned minority cabinet of ANO and the Social Democrats (CSSD) if the coalition pact includes a plan to reinforce Czech participation in military missions abroad, Jiri Pehe writes in daily Pravo on Thursday.

For the ANO-CSSD government to continue fulfilling Prague's commitments as an ally, the two parties can hardly meet the KSCM's demand. They seem to be trapped by the KSCM, on whose support their nascent government plans to rely, Pehe writes.

However, with its demand, the KSCM has stepped on thin ice, he writes.

Regardless the anti-EU SPD movement's effort to gain a share in power, which was unacceptable beforehand, the KSCM was the only party in parliament to present itself as "state-building" in January, when ANO leader Andrej Babis's single-party minority cabinet lost a confidence vote. The KSCM then showed readiness to negotiate about its support to Babis's possible next minority cabinet, Pehe writes.

The ANO-CSSD negotiations could be launched only thanks to the KSCM's declaration that it might tolerate and keep afloat the two-party government, which would have 93 seats in the 200-seat Chamber of Deputies, Pehe writes.

Of course, the KSCM did not promise its toleration for free. In exchange, it attained certain concessions in the new government's programme. Later it "constructively" withdrew some of the crucial demands, such as the ANO-CSSD tandem's support for the KSCM's version of the general referendum bill. As an argument for the withdrawals, it spoke about its responsibility for the birth of a stable government in the Czech Republic, Pehe writes.

Let's push aside the fact that one of the reasons behind the KSCM's unprecedented "constructive" approach was also the ailing party's effort to gain lucrative posts on supervisory boards of state-run companies and strengthen its influence on the state. The KSCM presented itself to the public as a party that shows responsibility in a situation where a stable cabinet failed to be secured by other parties, which always ostracised the KSCM before, Pehe writes.

KSCM chairman Vojtech Filip says the party's latest demand, aimed against Prague's enhancing of its participation in foreign military missions, is a matter of principle, and he is right to an extent, Pehe continues.

However, if the project of a new government with parliament's confidence fell through over this demand, it would have uncertain consequences for the KSCM, he writes.

Since the beginning, it has been clear that the KSCM-envisaged support for a cabinet headed by Babis, a prosecuted businessman, means the party's resignation from a number of communist principles. If the current project fell through over the party's opposition to the foreign military missions, the step may address hardcore voters of the KSCM, but it would never bring back the former KSCM voters who previously switched to Babis's ANO that promised a generous welfare policy, Pehe writes.

If the ANO-CSSD government project fell through and an early election were held after many further months of the current Babis cabinet's governance without confidence, the KSCM might see its election gain further shrink as a result of a massive campaign of ANO, which would present the "dogmatic" KSCM as the party to blame for the coalition government project's failure in the last moment, Pehe writes.

The KSCM has driven itself in a trap. The best thing for it to happen now would be if the CSSD rejected the project of its government with ANO in the upcoming internal referendum. If so, the blame would mainly rest with the CSSD, Pehe concludes.

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