Prague, Jan 15 (CTK) – The Czech Civic Democratic Party (ODS) survived its decline after the mid-2013 scandal of its former chairman Petr Necas and got stable under the chairmanship of Petr Fiala, but it needs much more time to fully recover, Miroslav Korecky writes in Mlada fronta Dnes (MfD) Saturday.
Fiala, an academician, prides in being the most educated chairman of a Czech political party, but still his cleverness cannot secure a steep rise of the ODS, which ruled the country in 1992-1998 and in 2006-2013, Korecky writes on the eve of the ODS’s national congress that is expected to re-elect Fiala as chairman.
Brilliant intellect does not win elections, neither do a politicians’ performance or achievements. At present, the Czech centre-left cabinet undeservedly benefits from the recent economic growth, while the right-wing opposition, including the ODS, is confined to mere harmless barking, Korecky writes.
In the long term, Fiala’s ODS has performed better than the other rightist opposition party, Miroslav Kalousek’s TOP 09, Korecky continues.
Unlike TOP 09, the ODS has developed into an impressive advocate of self-employed people, who are a clearly definable social economic group, it promotes a more realistic approach to the policy of immigration and to the European policy in general, and its style, refraining from aggressiveness, does not prevent the party’s cooperation within broad coalitions, Korecky writes.
The current period of intensifying socialism, redistribution, variety of regulations and oligarchisation of politics should be optimal for the rise of the right-wing opposition. However, both the ODS-promoted issues and methods seem to backfire on it. The ODS’s fight against the bill on the electronic evidence of sales can be easily interpreted as its defending of thieves, while its obstructions in parliament are widely viewed as inactivity of lawmakers, Korecky writes.
In addition, the ODS bears the burden of its past [as a rather unpopular scandal-ridden party], which, too, prevents a quicker recovery of its popularity, he adds.
The ODS has got stable at least under Fiala’s leadership, and it no longer has to end under the 5-percent threshold in any type of elections. Now its task is to gradually gain more and more supporters, Korecky writes.
The ODS may benefit from the expected weakening of TOP 09 as a result of Karel Schwarzenberg’s departure as its chairman and of its “divorcing” from its former ally, the Mayor and Independents (STAN) movement, Korecky continues.
If TOP 09, which has not taken strong roots in self-governing regions, failed in the autumn regional polls, the ODS would become the Czech right-wing leader, Korecky writes.
On the other hand, the ODS may be threatened by the nascent alliance of two extra-parliamentary parties, the Free Citizens and the Entrepreneurs’ Party backed by billionaire Ivo Valenta, Korecky writes.
If the ODS succeeds in defending its positions in regions and gaining seats in regional councils, its rise may accelerate, but no miracles can be expected. Even with an election breakthrough, the party’s full recovery would take more time, another two election terms at least. It will also depend on developments on the Czech political scene as well as external influences such as the ongoing migrant crisis and changes in the EU, Korecky writes.
Most recently, satisfaction with the party’s mere survival has prevailed among the ODS members, together with the feeling that nothing else can be done now but to wait patiently, Korecky writes.
As a result, the ODS surprises by nothing now, though even a conservative party should surprise now and then. Its candidates for regional governors include a single interesting name, that of former police president Martin Cervicek, Korecky writes.
No big personnel or programme changes are expected at the party’s congress this weekend either. The delegates will solemnly re-elect Fiala as ODS chairman who is far from impressive, but still more impressive than Bohuslav Sobotka, the prime minister and the arch-rival Social Democrats (CSSD) chairman, Korecky writes.