Prague, Oct 31 (CTK) – It is still unclear how the social conflict, which made thousands of people gather in Prague’s major square on October 28, will influence the balance of political forces one year before the general election, Lukas Jelinek writes in daily Pravo on Monday.
The boycott of the official award-giving ceremony and the staging of an alternative celebration of the national holiday was triggered by President Milos Zeman’s decision not to award Holocaust survivor Jiri Brady, allegedly for political reasons.
Jelinek says the meeting in the square somewhat imitated the atmosphere of the Velvet Revolution that toppled the country’s communist regime in 1989.
The speakers who addressed the crowd were Michal Horacek, who is ready to run for president against Zeman in 2018, former dissident and retired politician Petr Pithart, people from the show business as well as politicians of the Mayors and Independents (junior opposition STAN), the Christian Democrats (junior government KDU-CSL) and the right-wing Civic Democrats (junior opposition ODS). Representatives of the right-wing opposition TOP 09 also attended the meeting, Jelinek writes.
He says the Communists (senior opposition KSCM) distanced themselves from the gathering and expressed their disgust, while right-wing extremists showed no interest in it.
It is noteworthy that the strongest parties, the Social Democrats (CSSD) of Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka and the ANO movement of Finance Minister Andrej Babis, were not represented in the square, Jelinek writes.
It is not surprising that the CSSD and ANO have taken a reserved stance. The rally was an attempt to rewrite the Czech political map. The stream that has been opposed to both the CSSD and ANO, but first of all President Zeman whom some CSSD and ANO leading politicians keep courting, wants to secure its position on the political scene, Jelinek says.
It is rather unlikely for the right-wing opposition to join forces and ally with the Christian Democrats before the general election. The independence of Tibet and aversion to Zeman is a very poor programme, Jelinek writes.
Moreover, the admirers of ODS founder and former president Vaclav Klaus tend to support Zeman, he says.
But provided that enough voters support the parties which participated in the alternative celebrations next autumn’s general election, the developments of the last several days may have been important for the preparation of their possible cooperation after the elections, Jelinek writes.
If these parties agree on cooperation, their decision on whom they will choose for their ally will be crucial, he says.
Despite his promotion of Czech-Chinese relations, Sobotka is a determined advocate of parliamentary democracy, but the CSSD is disunited. The billionaire Babis shows no interest in Beijing and he recently adopted a reserved stance on Zeman, but the right-wing parties suspect him of being inclined to oligarchy, Jelinek writes.
The ANO movement might get into a precarious situation if it added another dividing line, Vaclav Havel vs Milos Zeman, to the present division between the traditional parties and new movements because this might separate the idealists from the pragmatists among its members, he says.
Jelinek says it is typical of Babis that he was on holiday, far away from the heated political debate on October 28. However, the election campaign of ANO will be a hard nut to crack for Babis’s marketing experts, he adds.
It would be most favourable for the CSSD and ANO if the expectations connected with the October 28 gathering turned into a competition for the next president. Pithart does not plan to run for president, while Horacek’s ambition is known, Jelinek writes.
Unless the anti-Zeman platform becomes fragmented, the fight for president will be interesting. In any case, it will be even more tense than in 2013 when people could only guess how Zeman is going to behave in the presidential post, Jelinek says.
Given the combination of the campaigns before the general (late 2017) and presidential (early 2018) elections, economic and social as well as ethical and cultural affairs will be interconnected. If somebody happens to hobble in some aspect, they will fail. This even applies to those who seem to be the biggest favourites at the moment, Jelinek writes.