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HN: Mainstream parties field few young election leaders

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Prague, Aug 4 (CTK) – The Czech parties of parliament have fielded very few young people under 40 in the posts of election leaders or at least among the first ten candidates on the lists with a high chance of being elected, daily Hospodarske noviny (HN) writes today.

Though Andrej Babis, leader of the government ANO movement, which is the favourite of the October 20-21 general election, promised two years ago to push through young candidates in top positions, the reality is different.

ANO, along with the opposition right-wing Civic Democrats (ODS), has the lowest number of young people, only 22, among the top ten election candidates, HN says.

“This does not mean that we, ‘old farts,’ do not let the young in, but young people are not interested in working in politics, they want to travel, study and focus on their professional career in their original fields,” Environment Minister Richard Brabec (ANO) said.

HN has analysed the lists of candidates of six main parties of parliament. Along with ANO and the ODS, it has counted young candidates in top positions and election leaders of the senior ruling Social Democrats (CSSD) and the junior government Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL) as well as the opposition Communists (KSCM) and right-wing TOP 09.

The parties have fielded a total of 164 people born in 1977 and later in the top ten positions on the election lists, which makes up some 20 percent. However, only 13 of them will run as number one.

HN writes that the Christian Democrats rely on young people most of all, having 37 under 40 in the first ten positions on the candidates’ lists in all 14 regions.

The CSSD leads in the number of young election leaders. It has four, including the youngest one of all the six parties, Marketa Wernerova, 33, who leads the CSSD candidates in the Karlovy Vary Region, west Bohemia.

Moreover, Human Rights Minister Jan Chvojka, 36, will lead the CSSD candidates in the Pardubice Region, east Bohemia, and councillor Petr Dolinek of the same age in Prague. Chamber of Deputies chairman Jan Hamacek, 38 will be the CSSD’s election leader in Central Bohemia where he will compete with Babis, 62, and TOP 09 chairman Miroslav Kalousek, 56, but also with the ODS’s youngest election leader, Jan Skopecek, 36, HN writes.

Unlike the CSSD, the Communists have only one election leader – Hana Aulicka, 36, in the Usti Region, north Bohemia.

Both the ODS and TOP 09 rely on long political experience rather than on “young energy.” However, the latter party has not completed its lists of candidates yet. The deadline for this expires on August 15.

It is known at least that TOP 09 placed its “main young star,” municipal councillor Dominik Feri, 21, at the bottom of the list of election candidates in Prague, hoping that he will be lifted to the top thanks to preferential votes.

The Communists have surprisingly quite many young candidates – 34, including the far youngest in the first ten positions, university student Petr Zampach, 20, HN writes.

Political analysts, addressed by the paper, agree that Czech politics needs “rejuvenation.”

“The Chamber of Deputies should represent all voter groups. Young people will bring a different view of the matter and they might defend different interests and ideas than older politicians,” Michal Svec, from the Faculty of Social Sciences of Charles University, said.

His colleague Lukas Jelinek, from the CSSD’s think tank Masaryk Democratic Academy, is of the view that Czech parties neglect their work with young politicians.

“Compared with the West where they target at age groups much more deliberately, in the Czech Republic, politicians must be sitting at meetings for long and only then they can run in elections,” Jelinek said, describing the situation that discourages young people from entering politics.

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