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Social Democrats to spend CZK 100 million on election campaign

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Prague, March 1 (CTK) – The Czech senior ruling Social Democrats (CSSD) will spend about 100 million crowns on the campaign leading up to the autumn elections to one-third of the Senate and the regional assemblies, CSSD deputy chairman for the economy Martin Starec told CTK on Tuesday.

On Tuesday, the party launched the spring part of its campaign by publishing ads in some daily papers in which it is challenging Deputy PM, Finance Minister and ANO chairman Andrej Babis.

ANO, which has long been the most popular party in opinion polls, is likely to be the CSSD’s strongest rival in the autumn elections.

“We have set aside the sum of about 100 million crowns from the budget,” Starec said, adding that the CSSD did not expect to take a loan for the campaign.

Two-thirds of the sum should go to the regional election and one-third to the Senate polls, he said.

The CSSD is set to to spend a considerably higher sum on the election campaign than the other parties.

So far, the opposition right-wing TOP 09 has mentioned wanting dozens of millions of crowns, while the junior government Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL) and the Mayors and Independents (STAN) movement would like to earmark some 15 million for the campaign.

The opposition Communists (KSCM) plan to spend up to 20 million and the Dawn running with the Bloc against Islam speaks about a maximum of ten million crowns.

The government ANO has not released the sum for its election campaign yet.

The CSSD has started setting itself against ANO in the campaign.

A CSSD advertisement published on the front-page of daily Pravo says: “The state is not a firm. It is a community of people,” hinting at the frequent statement by billionaire businessman Babis, the owner of the Agrofert food concern and some media, who has said he wants to head the state like a firm.

Prime Minister and CSSD chairman Bohuslav Sobotka said in Tuesday’s interview for public Czech Television (CT) he hoped that the government parties would be able to overcome their rivalry from the elections.

The coalition partners must take the work load ahead of them into consideration and share responsibility for fulfilling their promises with which they formed the cabinet in January 2014, Sobotka said.

ANO deputy chairman Jaroslav Faltynek has fought back in reaction to the CSSD’s ads.

“It is a pity that the state is not headed like a firm because if it had been headed like a firm, it would definitely not donated 40,000 flats for free to Zdenek Bakala. A private firm would never do that,” Faltynek said hinting at the controversial privatisation of the OKD mining company, including the miners’ flats, under the government in which Sobotka occupied the post of finance minister.

In its ad, the CSSD also refers to the campaign website where it highlights the results achieved by the CSSD in the coalition government in two years.

However, some coalition deputies say the CSSD is boasting about the laws that the whole government coalition supported.

“This belongs to the election marketing,” Deputy PM and KDU-CSL chairman Pavel Belobradek said.

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