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Pehe: Czechs not to have one-party gov’t similar to V4 neighbours’

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Prague, Nov 5 (CTK) – The Czech Republic is unlikely to have a one-party government similar to those of its partners in the Visegrad Four group (V4), because its political spectrum and electorate differ from those in Slovakia, Hungary and Poland, Jiri Pehe writes in Thursday’s Pravo.

Slovakia has a one-colour cabinet of Prime Minister Robert Fico´s Smer-Social Democracy. Hungary has a one-colour cabinet of Prime Minister Viktor Orban´s Fidesz. In Poland, the Law and Justice (PiS) party is going to form a one-colour cabinet based on the recent election result, Pehe writes.

The single-party rule has not harmed the above countries´ economy, but it led to undemocratic attempts [in Slovakia and Hungary] to expediently rewrite the constitution and election laws or gain control of the media, Pehe writes.

Smer-SD officially presents itself as a leftist party, while Fidesz and PiS officially adhere to the right-wing. In fact, however, all of them are similar populist parties with a dominating charismatic leader with autocratic tendencies. Their programmes are a combination of nationalism, social accent and resentment to “metropolitan” liberalism, Pehe writes.

They came to power after the collapse, in their respective countries, of the political party that was primarily responsible for the post-communist economic transformation and reforms linked to the EU country. In Slovakia, it was the right wing´s collapse, and in Poland and Hungary the left wing´s, Pehe writes.

In addition, compared with the West, the three countries have a high share of countryside and small town population, which is still in a sharp contrast to the economically and intellectually privileged cities, Pehe writes.

Why has not a one-party government re-appeared in the Czech Republic yet? he asks.

It seems important that the Czech democratic left was not established by a “mutation” of a communist party, though a sort of a post-communist “mentality” is clearly palpable among the strongest leftist party, the Social Democrats (CSSD), Pehe says.

The CSSD´s legitimacy differs from that of the post-communist left in Poland and Hungary. In the two countries, the leftist parties have collapsed, paradoxically also as a result of their leading role in the reintroduction of capitalism, Pehe says.

The CSSD has also an ethos differing from Smer-SD, Slovakia´s ruling party with the core of reformed communists, he writes.

Moreover, the composition of Czech society differs from the rest of the V4. A number of liberal-minded people live not only in Prague but also in other big Czech towns, Pehe says.

At present, the big towns are dominated by the ANO movement, which has an authoritarian leader [Finance Minister Andrej Babis], similar to the other government parties in the V4. Unlike them, however, ANO claims its adherence to centrist liberalism, thus attracting a part of “metropolitan” liberals among Czech voters, Pehe writes.

In the Czech Republic, the support from the countryside and small town voters, many of whom reject liberal values, the post-1989 transformation and the consequences of globalisation, has been shared by several parties. Out of the government parties, they are the CSSD and the Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL), whose traditions, however, prevent them from showing too much populist nationalism and misusing various frustrations of people, Pehe writes.

In addition, a part of these voters prefer supporting the opposition Communist Party (KSCM), whose strong position is a Czech anomaly, Pehe writes.

Like in the other V4 countries, this electorate, nostalgic for the old [pre-1989] times, mildly prevails in the Czech Republic, but its position is weaker as a result of various factors (stronger urbanisation, more advanced social stratification, weaker influence of the Catholic Church and the “trench” that yawns between the CSSD and the KSCM as two strong leftist parties), Pehe writes.

Milos Zeman succeeded in uniting these voters in the early 2013 presidential election. In general elections, however, it has repeatedly become clear that this part of society is more structured in the Czech Republic than in the rest of the V4, Pehe writes.

It cannot be ruled out that these voters may produce a Czech majority coalition in the future, which would be united based on an “emergency” issue such as a refugee wave. However, it is improbable that any emergency situation would benefit a single party to an extent enabling it to form a one-colour government, Pehe adds.

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