Nove Sedlo, West Bohemia, Dec 3 (CTK) – Czech Social Democrat (CSSD) chairman Bohuslav Sobotka and first deputy chairman Milan Chovanec won support for defending their posts at the party’s national election congress next spring from the CSSD Karlovy Vary regional branch Saturday, Sobotka told journalists.
Sobotka and Chovanec have already been nominated for their posts again by three other CSSD regional conferences – the Hradec Kralove, Pardubice and Zlin branches.
However, CSSD delegates from Brno City nominated Jeronym Tejc for first deputy chairman.
Sobotka recently said that he backs Chovanec and does not trust Tejc. He called on his critics in the party to run against him for chairman.
Tejc was one of several CSSD leading politicians who, along with President and former CSSD head Milos Zeman, planned to remove Sobotka from the posts of chairman and future prime minister after the 2013 general election that the party won. Their plan failed and they had to leave the party leadership. Chovanec was the only one from the group who moved to Sobotka’s camp. He has become interior minister.
Sobotka said after the October regional and Senate elections in which the CSSD failed that he would be defending the post of chairman. He also rejected the view that the posts of prime minister and party head should be divided between two persons, arguing that this would weaken the party before the late 2017 general election.
At present, the ANO movement of Finance Minister Andrej Babis seems to be the election favourite. Some CSSD politicians say Sobotka seems unfit to compete with Babis and his bad relations with President Zeman harm the party.
Sobotka said Saturday the CSSD should focus on raising salaries and pensions.
“Though the economic growth is decent and the unemployment rate is the lowest in the European Union and though we expect to have a budget surplus, salaries of many people did not increase in the past few years,” he said.
Neither European subsidies nor foreign investments will contribute to the growth of the Czech economy in the next few years unless Czech households have finances they can spend, Sobotka said.
He said the Social Democrats must reject Babis’s effort to cut or abolish the dividend tax. Only the most rich would profit from such a step, including the billionaire Babis himself, Sobotka said.