Prague Twin

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Czech Elections

The Czech parliamentary elections were held Friday and Saturday.

June 4 (Bloomberg) -- Czech elections, marred by corruption charges and a threat to challenge the results, ended in stalemate as neither of the two main parties are able to gather a majority coalition, raising the prospect of new elections.

There is only one free-market party, the Civil Democrats (ODS), who garnered a small plurality (35.4%) but their policies are indealistic and outdated (still throwing around the idea of a flat tax). In Prague, many people held their noses and voted for ODS (they got over 48% in the capitol) citing "no other choice." The party, however, is a walking contradiction as they have been quite vocal against the EU. Vaclav Klaus, the President and figurehead of ODS has openly said that multi-culturalism won't work. EU ministers from ODS have publicly said that the question should not be which country will be next to join the EU, but rather which country will be the first to leave.

Free-market isolationists: walking contradiction.

But what are the other choices?

The ruling Social Democrats have an archaic policy platform, and by all accounts are severely corrupt. They give lip-service to helping the working class, and then institute a minimum income tax. The prime minister conducts himself in televised debates like a college softmore at best. To his credit, most of the other leaders conduct themselves similarly. As an example of hypocricy, one day he condemns corruption in soccer, the next he announces plans to build a new soccer stadium. The policies they are enacting are bad for business, and don't really help the people. Their motto of "garanutee and prosperity" rings rather hollow. Their election posters were defaced widely, the most common changed their slogan "We work for you," to "We work for us."

The Comminists are the third largest party here and they got almost 13% of the vote. In some of the industrail areas in the east they are still the most popular party. The Communists are, well, communists. ODS usually says things at the debates like, "The Communists had their chance and we all know how that worked out." Pretty tough to argue with that.

The two fringe parties (The Christian Democrats and the Greens) received about 7% and 6% respectively. As small as they are, their seats in the parliament will be highly coveted in coalition building efforts. But the bad blood from this election will make it very difficult for any ruling coalition to be formed.

The Czech Republic is looking more and more like Western Europe all the time.


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    By Blogger Bob Higgins, at 2:33 PM  

  • Hello, Prague Twin, and it is nice to read your interpretation of the election results. My husband and I are American newcomers to Prague and have been trying to learn more about the various parties...still undecided on our our own opinions as we have a lot to learn.

    Nice blog!

    By Blogger QueenBitch, at 4:00 PM  

  • Thanks PT. I have been following, but without the benefit of such good background info.
    Media reports of the result have been confusing, I guess because they are based on a lot of guesswork on the who’s who.
    An excellent summary.

    By Blogger Cartledge, at 6:32 PM  

  • Hi queenbitch,

    Thank you for the kind words. I hope your husband and yourself enjoy the Prague experience. If you figure anything out about Czech politics, please let me know.


    Thanks a lot. Also, thanks for the mention and kind words over at Talk About Corruption. I am way behind on my reading, and just got to it.

    It is anyone's guess where we go from here. It will be interesting to see what happens to the local currency as a result of this uncertainty about the future.

    By Blogger Praguetwin, at 8:41 PM  

  • Proportional representation sounds like a pretty good idea to me. There's less argument for a "wasted" vote (altho I don't really buy that argument in the US either.)

    In any event, it sounds like you're not too thrilled with any of the parties. I know the feeling. ;-)

    By Anonymous abi, at 9:16 PM  

  • It is nice that small parties get to have a voice. Also, a small party can rise to power, unlike in the states. Unfortunaely, you are right: I am not thrilled with any of the parties here.

    By Blogger Praguetwin, at 9:23 PM  

  • It's off topic, praguetwin, but what did you think of Bernanke's comments yesterday (and the subsequent market drop)?

    By Blogger reality-based educator, at 12:19 PM  

  • Hi all,

    I was in Moscow completely cut off from everything. I will be back soon.


    By Blogger Praguetwin, at 6:30 AM  

  • So, which party is on the right? Any? Aren't the centrist righties usually the Christian Democrats or some such drivel? BTW college sophmore (sophia moron--wise idiot) unless you were punning. if so, sorry.

    By Blogger Roger Fraley, at 1:30 AM  

  • Thanks Roger,

    No, that is just sloppiness on my part.

    Yes, we have Christian democrats, but the Greens are about as significant. They have some mystery party inside their party and they still get less than 10%.

    The point is that people are so left it is crazy. Between the Commeis and the Social Dems they have well over 50% here and that doesn't count Greens. This depite the fact that the Social Dems are corrupt and everyone knows, and the Commies are, well, they are the Communists for Christs sake!There are no good righties. If you could get a socially responisble (or not) free-market party with a cohesive platform going, I think you would clean up here. Some savy young ecomomists could start a brand new movement that could clean house.

    They would have to be socially resposible to a point, but people here will buy the capitalist dream if it is packaged right, er, correctly.

    By Blogger Praguetwin, at 12:27 AM  

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