Prague, April 18 (CTK) – The Communist party of Bohemia and Moravia (KSCM), which will have its extraordinary election congress on April 21, has the biggest influence on the composition and activities of the government since the end of the Communist rule in 1989.
Due to its totalitarian past, the party was in a certain isolation as most democratic parties refused to cooperate with it. Now the Communists are negotiating on the support for or tolerance of a government to be formed by Prime Minister Andrej Babis’s ANO.
The party owes its rising influence to the election to the Chamber of Deputies last year. Although it had the worst result in its history, the balance of power and the reluctance of many other parties to cooperate with ANO makes from the KSCM a potential partner of ANO, now the strongest political force in the country.
The extraordinary congress, which will elect the new party leadership, was called over the party’s rout last October. The KSCM only obtained 7.8 percent of the vote or 15 mandates in the 200-seat Chamber of Deputies.
Despite this, party leader Vojtech Filip was re-elected the deputy chairman of the lower house last November. Filip has been holding the post for 13 years. It is the highest post a Communist has held in the Czech Republic.
After the election defeat last October, Filip said he would not run again. “I am the longest serving leader of a party. In my view, a replacement can bring something,” Filip said.
However, he changed his mind this February and said he would run again. The post is contested by another nine candidates. The biggest chances are given to hard-liner Josef Skala and young MEP Katerina Konecna.
Filip gained his current mandate at the party congress in May 2016 when he was elected for the fourth time in a row (for the first time in 2005).
At that time, the Czech Communists also elected the party board. Along with Filip, there is the first deputy chairman Petr Simunek and deputy chairpersons Jiri Dolejs and Josef Skala.
At the previous congress, some delegates criticised the party leadership, arguing that the party did not fight enough against anti-Communism, only pursuing a conciliatory and parliamentary policy.
Filip argued that the KSCM was increasing its authority in society since in the past four-year election term it gained a post of regional governor and 33 mandates in the Chamber of Deputies.
The Communists kept the post of regional governor of the Usti Region after the 2016 election, but their lost 18 mandates in the Chamber of Deputies.
In January, the minority government of ANO did not gain confidence from the Chamber of Deputies. Due to it, the KSCM became one of the potential props of the prepared Babis’s second government.
The KSCM was conducting talks on the tolerance of the government and now it is ready to discuss the government programme with ANO, Filip said.
Due to the programme differences in the foreign and security policy as well as taxation, the Communists are willing to do much for creating a government with confidence and tolerate it. “But not back it,” Filip said.
The Communists resent Babis and other ministers having supported the recent allied air strike in Syria over the use of chemical weapons, which they condemned.
They want to open the issue in the talks on the tolerance of the government with ANO.
The Communists’ growing influence is evidenced by the filling of posts in the Chamber of Deputies. The KSCM gained the post of the head of the influential budgetary committee and it also chairs the mandate and immunity committee.
In addition, the party with a totalitarian past, whose many members openly advocate the crimes of the Communist regime, enjoys President Milos Zeman’s favour.
Zeman will visit the KSCM congress and become the first president to have accepted an invitation from Communists since the end of the Communist era in 1989.