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MfD: ČSSD should prefer Zaorálek as genuine leftist leader

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Prague, Aug 31 (CTK) – Lubomir Zaoralek, the Czech Social Democrats’ (CSSD) leader in the upcoming general election, would be a more suitable chairman of the party than Milan Chovanec, its interim head, if it wants to promote leftist issues, Vojtech Srnka writes in daily Mlada fronta Dnes (MfD) on Thursday.

Apart from focusing on the October 20-21 elections, the CSSD is pondering on who should become its chairman afterwards, now that PM Bohuslav Sobotka resigned as the party head, Srnka writes.

If the party wants to present itself as leftist, which has been the case now, the present model would be more advantageous for it, with Zaoralek, the foreign minister, in fact leading the party and Chovanec, the interior minister, taking a back-seat, Srnka writes.

After the CSSD’s failure in the 2016 regional elections, the tandem of Sobotka and Chovanec, who were the party’s head and first deputy head at the time, presented a dual vision. Sobotka said the CSSD should mainly focus on the liberal-minded electorate, while Chovanec aimed at “conservative” socialist voters, Srnka writes.

Sobotka and Chovanec’s visions each represented the two main wings in the CSSD, Srnka says, adding that in the past, the CSSD always fared the best if it found an issue for the two rival wings to unite on.

However, Sobotka and Chovanec chose an issue on which the two camps are split. Chovanec promoted pro-nation views such as the opposition to the EU’s migration policy and arms possession directive. Sobotka, for his part, tried to smooth out arising controversies, Srnka writes.

Insiders say the CSSD applied the dual approach in order to address both liberals and traditional socialist voters. However, as a result, its voter preferences further declined, Srnka writes.

This was not a surprising outcome of the CSSD’s attempts to attract voters by disputes with the EU over migrants and firearms, complemented by pro-Chinese declarations, Srnka writes.

In fact the influence of the migrant and arms possession issues on Czech voters is negligible, because a mere dozen of migrants have settled in the country, and the number of firearms holders is too low for the issue to crucially influence elections, Srnka writes.

In the past, one of the issues that united the CSSD’s rival wings and helped the party in elections were patients’ regulatory fees. At present, low wages may become such a topic. Millions of Czechs are dissatisfied with their wages compared with what people earn in the same positions in the West, Srnka writes.

A pay rise promotion may help the leftist CSSD far more than Chovanec’s struggle against the EU and its subsequent softening by Sobotka, he writes.

This is true not only before the elections but also afterwards, when the party will most probably choose either Chovanec or Zaoralek for its regular head. However, the image Chovanec developed in the past year is incompatible with leftist issues on which the party is relying, Srnka writes.

Zaoralek’s fiery speech at the CSSD congress earlier this year eventually helped him take over the position of election leader from Sobotka. Since then, Zaoralek has been more convincing in promoting leftist issues, Srnka writes.

True, some in the party say that Zaoralek’s organisational skills are incomparable with Chovanec’s as is Zaoralek’s team that secures support for him in the party. In spite of this, Zaoralek would be more suitable as CSSD chairman, Srnka writes.

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