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Czech News in English » Opinion » HN: Gov't partners challenging each other before election

HN: Gov’t partners challenging each other before election

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Prague, Oct 3 (CTK) – Czech regional elections have always been a vote in protest against the government, but the opposition’s role is negligible now and it is the two strongest government parties that protest against each other before this year’s election, Petr Honzejk writes in Hospodarske noviny (HN) on Monday.

In the first regional election in 2000, the opposition Civic Democrats (ODS) scored success by protesting against the government of Milos Zeman (Social Democrats, CSSD).

Similarly, the ODS won the following polls in 2004, protesting against the government of Stanislav Gross (CSSD).

In 2008, the CSSD, the major opposition party protesting against the government of Mirek Topolanek (ODS), scored a sweeping victory dubbed as “the orange tsunami”.

In 2012, another orange tsunami undermined the national government of Petr Necas (ODS), Honzejk writes.

The above “rule” seems not to work before the forthcoming regional elections due on October 7-8, Honzejk writes.

The main battle has been raging between the two strongest partners in the three-party government coalition, the Social Democrats (CSSD) and the ANO movement, Honzejk writes.

The opposition’s presence is only symbolic this time and the only thing it can do is to dignifiedly follow Pierre de Coubertin’s motto “The most important thing…is not winning but taking part,” Honzejk writes.

At a closer look, it is clear that the protest character of the regional election has been preserved but in a different form. Noteworthily, two government parties, the CSSD and ANO, are protesting against each other and calling each other a threat endangering the Czech Republic, democracy, outer space and so on, Honzejk writes with sarcasm.

ANO chairman and Finance Minister Andrej Babis has launched another round of his well-tried protests against corruption, mainly focused on the incumbent regional governors for the CSSD, Honzejk writes.

The CSSD describes Babis, a billionaire owner of the Agrofert Holding, as the main evil, and loudly opposes his style of managing the state like a business company, Honzejk writes.

As if each of the two government coalition parties instinctively felt that it could only win if it presented itself in a trustworthy way as the suppressed opposition that will lead the people against the rotten and mean government establishment, Honzejk writes.

Sobotka and Babis are like a married couple who have rows and practise adultery now and then, but still they do not divorce because they share a mortgage loan, he says.

The sad aspect of the current situation is that the government parties theatrically protest against each other instead of offering positive programmes. This lays bare the essence of Czech politics, which is to protest at any cost, irrespective of what the criticised object may be, Honzejk writes.

He who does not protest, has no chance, does not exist, he says.

A side positive effect of this is that the methods of “protesting against anything” have been mastered by the mainstream parties so perfectly that hardcore protest parties paradoxically have no chance to succeed in the Czech Republic, Honzejk writes.

For example, the mainstream parties have included the protest against the non-existing Muslim immigration in their programmes and rhetoric very persuasively, thereby attracting the electorate of smaller xenophobic groupings, Honzejk writes.

This, however, is the only positive impact of the protest character of Czech politics, he says.

In the Czech Republic, elections are usually won by those who blacken their opponents and show a negative approach rather than those offering a comprehensible and positive vision, Honzejk writes.

Those who want to jail others, abolish something or prevent something have a bigger chance than those who want to introduce something or seek progress, Honzejk says.

Maybe this is why the Czech Republic has been stagnating and why the productivity of Czech politics has been as unconvincing as the labour productivity, Honzejk writes.

The Czechs defend themselves, protest, hold each other at bay. On the one hand, this protects them from extremes. On the other, they probably cannot expect more than they have now, Honzejk concludes.

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