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HN: ODS believes its worst times are over

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Prague, Jan 5 (CTK) – The Czech Civic Democratic Party (ODS), which formed governments in the past but now is in opposition and which will hold its election congress on January 16-17, believes that it has overcome the worst period, daily Hospodarske noviny (HN) writes yesterday.
“The crisis is undoubtedly over. The ODS has not only survived which many commentators doubted, but it is gradually returning to the position of the strongest rightist party. The moods within the ODS have also changed,” party head Petr Fiala is quoted as saying.
Fiala, 51, has been ODS chairman since January 2014. He replaced Petr Necas, whose centre-right coalition government fell in June 2013 after his scandal involving Jana Nagyova, head of his office, whom he married later in the year after he divorced his wife. The scandal dramatically pressed down the ODS´s preferences and many members left it.
Fiala has been the ODS´s fourth chairman since it was founded by Vaclav Klaus in 1991. The second party chairman was former prime minister Mirek Topolanek.
HN writes that party leadership members rejoice at that the party is no longer ridiculed. “The period of quarantine, political isolation where all were telling us ´We do not talk to you, we do not cooperate with you because you are the ODS´ is gradually ending,” HN quotes party deputy chairman Martin Novotny as saying.
The once dominant party which was overlooking small parties in its heyday is now rejoicing at that all public opinion polls show that it has risen above the 5 percent abyss, with the most favourable prognosis predicting it will gain 10 percent of the vote, HN writes.
“There are other signals that can arouse optimism in the ODS. It is of key importance that support for [the other rightist opposition party] TOP 09 is slightly decreasing according to most polls, while support for the ODS is moderately going up. In addition, the ODS´s position ahead of the autumn regional election is clearly better,” HN quotes sociologist Jan Herzmann as saying.
Fiala, political science professor and former rector of Masaryk University in Brno, will most probably smoothly defend his post at the congress. When he was elected two years ago, the party however doubted his leadership skills, HN writes.
Fiala spent the whole first year in the post answering questions about Nagyova´s role and he was constantly apologising for the mistakes made by Necas´s government and explaining the party´s big debts, HN writes.
It writes that later, he started to act more as a representative of the hard core of the ODS that wants to win back the party´s stalwarts.
Fiala pursues a different strategy than Miroslav Kalousek, new chairman of the competition TOP 09, who focuses on uncompromising criticism of Finance Minister Andrej Babis and President Milos Zeman, HN writes.
Fiala prefers warning against the return of socialism because the left has positions everywhere – in the presidential post, in the government, in the Senate and in the Chamber of Deputies, in regions as well as at large towns´ halls, HN writes.
It writes that Fiala criticises a wide range of new regulations being introduced by the current centre-left government.
These include checks in houses to see what people use for heating, rules telling pedestrians what they should wear at night, or a regulation obliging restaurants to ban smoking and to have at least one non-alcoholic beverage cheaper than beer, HN writes.
“We have survived, but it will still require a lot of work to push preferences up to 15 to 20 percent,” HN quotes ODS deputy chairman Milos Vystrcil as saying.
The posts of deputy chairpersons are sought by men again, but Fiala says he would like to have at least one woman in the party leadership, HN writes.
“I would consider it good for many reasons, which do not include quotas or the gender leftist raving. However, being a modern conservative politician, I believe that a purely male society is not good, that it must be enriched and cultivated with the female view of things,” Fiala said.
HN writes that Prague politician Alexandra Udzenija is considering running for a leading post in the party.

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