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LN: ODS benefits from criticism of EU migration policy

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Prague, Jan 27 (CTK) – The Civic Democratic Party (ODS) has a good chance of regaining its position of the Czech right leader, also thanks to its steady criticism of the EU and German approach to migration, political scientist Milan J. Hamersky writes in Lidove noviny (LN) yesterday.
ODS chairman Petr Fiala has succeeded in stabilising the party financially and politically since its decline and departure to opposition after the collapse of former chairman Petr Necas’s government in mid-2013. Hamersky writes.
Fiala’s next step should be the elimination of the ODS’s rival rightist parties, Hamersky says, adding that the ODS is on the path towards regaining its position of the Czech right leader supported by 10 or even 15 percent of voters before the next general election due in 2017.
The ODS may even become the only relevant rightist party on the Czech scene, apart from the centre-right ANO of billionaire and current Finance Minister Andrej Babis, Hamersky writes.
External conditions play into Fiala’s hands, but he personally, too, has largely contributed to the improving position of the ODS, Hamersky writes.
The ODS’s main rightist rival, TOP 09, continues to decline. In addition, the ODS skilfully benefits from the prevailing fears of the danger posed by immigration, Hamersky says.
The migration issue and most people’s hysterical reactions to it coincide with the ODS’s criticism of Brussels as an infamous institution whose incapability jeopardises Czechs once again, Hamersky writes.
As a bonus, the anti-German card has reappeared in reaction to Angela Merkel’s approach to the acceptance of refugees, Hamersky says.
TOP 09 has been losing popularity of late. It has no strong topic to present, no new faces or an interesting offer. Its attractiveness has also faded as a result of its separation from its long-standing ally, the Mayors and Independents (STAN), and the departure of Karel Schwarzenberg as the party head, Hamersky writes.
Compared with TOP 09, the ODS has come up with a more systematic criticism of the centre-right government and also with positive proposals, he writes.
The regional and Senate elections, due in the autumn, are an advantageous battlefield for the ODS, which has a chance to not only keep its strong position in regions but also enter the regional governments in some of them. TOP 09, for its part, will face a problem crossing the 5 percent threshold in some regions without the STAN’s support, Hamersky writes.
On the other hand, the new alliance of two rightist extra-parliamentary entities, the Free Citizens’ Party and the Private Entrepreneurs’ Party subsidised by Ivo Valenta, a gambling magnate and independent senator, is unlikely to succeed and threaten the ODS, Hamersky writes.
The ODS will soon mark its 25th foundation anniversary.
In the autumn polls, it will fight for the support of the “fluctuating” voters with the Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL), the STAN and various independent candidates. Its advantages are its long-lasting presence in the regional bodies and the fact that its politicians are well known to the public, Hamersky writes.
With Fiala at its head, the ODS has abandoned the position of a party controlled by “godfathers” and therefore written off by voters. However, its coalition potential on the national level is low, and it can consider joining the government after the 2022 general election at the earliest, Hamersky writes.

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