Prague, June 26 (CTK) – The Social Democrats (CSSD) and the Communists (KSCM) seem equally strong before the Czech general election for the first time after 25 years during which the CSSD clearly had the upper hand, Miroslav Korecky writes in daily Mlada fronta Dnes (MfD) today.

Unless the situation changes during the last four months of the campaign, only the elections, due on October 20-21, will show which of the two leftist parties will be stronger in the Chamber of Deputies in the next election period. The latest opinion polls show that both the KSCM and the CSSD would win about 10-13 percent of the vote if elections were held now, and some even indicate that the Communists are slightly more popular, Korecky writes.

In 1992, the Left Bloc coalition beat the then weak CSSD in the general election that was the last one in which the two parties seemed to have similar chances of succeeding. The CSSD soon started becoming more and more popular under Milos Zeman who became its leader in 1993 and who managed to win over all left-wing streams, Korecky writes.

Until 2013, the CSSD always had a two-digit lead over the Communists: in 1998 the gap was 21.3 percentage points, in 2006 it was 19.5. In 2013, the CSSD won 20.5 percent of the vote and the KSCM 14.9 percent.

This year, the preferences of the now senior government CSSD and the senior opposition KSCM seem similar and, paradoxically, their election programmes have become far more similar, too, Korecky writes.

The CSSD election slogan is “A good country to live in”, while the KSCM tries to attract voters with “Peace in the world, justice and security at home.” Both are traditional leftist slogans and neither of them shows how critical the present battle on the left wing is, Korecky writes.

One week ago, the Social Democrats presented their programme that abandons all plans to address city liberals and wants to be authentically leftist: higher welfare benefits, higher taxation, more redistribution and more regulation. The marked increase in the average and minimum wages and higher welfare are to be covered by higher taxes imposed on banks and supranational companies, Korecky writes about the CSSD programme.

He says the Communists, who had a programme meeting this weekend, had little chance of attacking the CSSD from the left.

The KSCM only openly called for the reintroduction of socialism and it added several issues such as the country’s departure from NATO, the creation of a state commercial bank and the nationalisation of the energy, telecommunication and transport networks, Korecky writes.

Otherwise, the Communist and Social Democrat programmes are alike: the carrot for the poor and the whip for the rich, he adds.

The CSSD has a higher chance of being part of the next government, while the KSCM presents the socialist programme more bluntly, Korecky writes.

But the situation is more complicated because Andrej Babis, leader of the ANO movement, which is the election’s favourite, has been winning over voters of both parties. The KSCM and the CSSD hope to win these voters back. The CSSD made such a radical turn to the left because Babis can never be so strongly leftist, Korecky writes.