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MfD: Rest of gov’t term to be turbulent ahead of elections

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Prague, Oct 19 (CTK) – The first half of the Czech centre-left government’s term of office has been quite calm but the upcoming latter half will probably be much “wilder” with the regional and general elections and the following presidential polls drawing nearer, Miroslav Korecky writes in Mlada fronta Dnes (MfD) Monday.

The mainstream parties’ current positions surprisingly do not differ much from the 2013 general election results, Korecky writes, referring to a party popularity poll released by the STEM agency.

The government Social Democrats (CSSD) and ANO have swapped their positions of the popularity leader and runner-up since, and the Dawn movement split into two entities whose preferences together correspond to former Dawn’s, but otherwise the scene remains as fragmented as in late 2013 when seven parties entered the Chamber of Deputies, Korecky writes.

If a general election were held now, the new Chamber of Deputies would be almost identical with the present one, he says.

The traditional parties still fail to pull together and there are not yet any strong political entities on the Czech scene, but only moderately strong and weak ones, Korecky writes.

It is noteworthy, the two main government parties, the CSSD and ANO, still lead the popularity polls halfway through the government’s term, unlike in the past when the main opposition party’s popularity always comfortably exceeded the government’s two years after the general election, Korecky writes.

In addition, the ANO and the CSSD chairmen, Finance Minister Andrej Babis and Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka, respectively, are the most popular politicians, Korecky writes.

The opposition practically does not exist now. The share of the people supporting the opposition Communists (KSCM), TOP 09, the Civic Democrats (ODS) and the two successors to the Dawn movement together exceeds one third of the electorate, but these parties have almost nothing in common, which makes the opposition harmless and capable of verbal obstructions only, Korecky writes.

By irreconcilably fighting both the left and Babis’s ANO, the ODS and TOP 09 unwittingly indicate that they will remain in opposition after the next polls because they have no partner to govern with, Korecky says.

The performance of the cabinet of the CSSD, ANO and the Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL) has been far from impressive. More of less, it is a caretaker cabinet, hence probably its popularity. Without launching reforms, it tends to scrap the previous ones, it squanders money, creates new offices, and fails to “heal” the state financial management, Korecky writes.

However, the first, calmer period of the government’s term is over now, and turbulences can be expected as from next year when the primaries and the campaign ahead of the autumn regional elections will flare up, Korecky writes.

The outcome of the regional elections next year is rather unpredictable. In the past, government parties were regularly defeated in regional polls, as the voters punished them for unpopular reforms and scandals, Korecky says.

In the current and the preceding four-year terms, most of the 14 self-rule regions have been led by the CSSD governors. The voters may desire a change now, Korecky writes, and mentions the scandals of CSSD regional officials such as David Rath, Jaroslav Palas, Marcel Chladek and most recently Jiri Rozboril.

However, the political spectrum has behaved rather uncommonly in the past two years, which is why the regional polls in October 2016 will not be a classical vote halfway through the parliament’s term but rather a big test ahead of the general election due in October 2017, Korecky writes.

Similarly, the direct presidential poll in January 2018 will not take place halfway through the parliament’s term, as was the case in the past, but a mere three months after the general election, and the two elections and pre-election campaigns will influence each other, Korecky writes.

Incumbent President Milos Zeman says he will announce whether he will seek re-election one year before his mandate expires, i.e. in March 2017. At that time, half a year before the general election and amid the election campaign, political parties will also be choosing their own candidates for president. Simultaneously, however, they will know that it will be Zeman, who will appoint a new prime minister and a new government after the October 2017 general election, Korecky writes.

In view of this, it will be advantageous for parties to get on well with Zeman, he says.

Some may find the first half of the current election term too calm or boring. Now, however, “we are boarding a centrifuge” and wild turbulences should be expected, Korecky adds.

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