Saturday, October 26, 2013 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Unreadable rich men's parties impress in Czech elections

The Parliamentary elections in Czechia ended 2 hours 50 minutes ago and what we see now are already the more-or-less final results because 94% of the election districts have been counted. The remaining ones are largely random, slightly leaning towards the larger cities (in average, larger districts take a longer time to be counted) where the leftists might be slightly weaker, so an improvement of the results will occur but it will be very slight.

Three hours after the voting ended, 97% of districts have been counted and the lawmaker counts changed to 51, 47, 35, 25, 15, 13, 14 relatively to the screenshot above.

The chart above (via shows that the leftists' result was much poorer i.e. less frustrating than expected. Social democrats won with 21-% (51/200 deputies) and commies have 15+ percent (37/200 deputies).

There won't be any "really right-wing" lawmakers in the Parliament. The center-right parties – Klaus-founded ODS, TOP 09, and the Christian democratic KDU–ČSL (decreasingly right-wing parties) – have 7.5%, 11+%, and 7-% (16, 24, 14 deputies – 54 in total, slightly more than the social democrats by themselves).

The center-right parties didn't impress so who are those who benefited most from the drop of the leftists? It's mostly the unreadable would-be centrist parties ANO 2011 of the Slovak-born agricultural billionaire (and second wealthiest Czech) Andrej Babiš (19-%, 47/200, almost matching the victorious social democrats) and the radical Czech Japanese travel agency manager Tomio Okamura's "Dawn of Direct Democracy" (7+ percent, 11/200 deputies).

ANO 2011 is arguably centrist, indeed. The rich leader became important during communism and he may have been an agent (called Bureš) of the communist secret agency as well but he paints himself as a no-nonsense manager of the nation who just wants to make the government more efficient.

Okamura wasn't expected to get in by many pundits including myself (and the Pilsner band Semtex that recorded an Oka-Mura song) but he's safely in. He's more radical and wants many things aside from constant referendums and direct democracy (and voters-prescribed resignations of unpopular politicians), e.g. a material co-responsibility of politicians for the public assets (crazy) and especially confiscation of all assets above a threshold whose legal origin can't be proven, even if it is retroactive. This plan of nationalization puts him on the left side from the socialists and communists who don't want to do such things retroactively (at least they don't publicly admit so).

The Green Party at 3-% was the strongest party that won't get to the Parliament (5% threshold) – another silver lining of the today's elections. The Party of Free Citizens (SSO), Libertarian anti-tax anti-EU group led by Petr Mach, a young collaborator of Klaus, received a rather impressive 2.5% (just slightly less than the Pirate Party's 2.6%). Their location outside the Parliament isn't "eternally guaranteed" but it was still pretty clear that they wouldn't get in this time.

SPOZ, the party of the current president Zeman's friends (this is the real name of the party, not a joke), only got 1.5% or so and Klaus-endorsed "Heads Up" of Ms Bobošíková stayed slightly below 0.5% which could be called a debacle. I am not interested in the other small parties.

It's almost certain that the social democrats will be a major part of a future coalition – a simple assertion that makes many people like myself feel anxious. These socialists plus communists won't have enough – above 100/200 deputies (another nice surprise) – so another comrade has to be added. It could be Babiš or Okamura or both (but with Okamura only, they would only form an extremely weak government). It's unlikely that a strongly anti-communist (although not equally right-wing) TOP 09 would join the social democratic government if it depended on the communist support.

Socialists plus Babiš only don't have enough, either.

One may think about a grand (left-right) coalition of standard democratic parties – to eliminate the commies and one-man parties. But such a grand coalition would probably need four and not just the two parties we were used to: social democrats, ODS, TOP 09, and KDU. That would be a grand coalition, indeed. Such ideologically colorless and confused coalitions could still be better than the alternatives – but I used to think that similar extreme colorless measures are only justifiable in the state of war. ;-) I may change my mind soon.

Alternatively, one may think/dream about a socialists-free coalition – everyone except for socialists and commies. That could be a repetition of the 2010 outcome except that the number of parties in the coalition would have to jump from 3 to 5 (now 7 parties got in, much more than the 4 parties after the 2010 elections). Okamura would be needed and would be the most "not belonging" member. He would probably choose not to have any ministers but would insist on the coalition's adoption of some of his "direct democracy" demands.

It will be primarily annoying, perhaps slightly interesting, but the results seem less catastrophic than I thought just a few hours ago. Also, I have some hopes that President Zeman will pick a moderate social democrat Hašek (who is closer to Zeman and powerful enough in the party) rather than the hardcore left-wing Spejbl chairman Comrade Sobotka as the prospective prime minister.

Tragic elections in Czechia around the corner
Originally posted on October 18th

All the TRF readers who have ever said that they were thinking about emigration to Czechia are recommended to immediately abandon the plans, however speculative, because what the elections next Friday and Saturday will bring to the country will be rather catastrophic.

Self-described right-wing parties may very well fill just 8-15 percent of the Parliament while the self-described left-wing parties may have 70 percent. The rest is centrist or unreadable.

Let me show you the results of the latest survey.

Up to 6-7 parties would make it to the lower chamber. They are expected to earn the following percentages of the electorate:

  • 26%: ČSSD, the social democratic party
  • 16%: KSČM, the communist party, no kidding, it's called this way
  • 13%: TOP-09, the aristocrat-led centrist party
  • 13%: ANO, a businessman and probable StB-agent-led pseudoparty
  • 08%: ODS, the main modern center-right party that would normally win the polls
  • 06%: KDU-ČSL, the christian-democratic / people's centrist party
  • 05%: SPOZ, the party of friends of Miloš Zeman (the current president)
  • 04%: The Dawn, a revolutionary non-party of a Czech-Japanese nutcase
  • 03%: SSO, the free citizen party, UKIP-like
  • 02%: Pirates, the anti-copyright pro-Internet geek party
  • 02%: others, mostly "heads up", Klaus-endorsed party of Ms Bobo
Some comments. Only parties above the 5% threshold will make it to the Parliament. The Parliament votes confidence for the government – but the government is constructed by the appointed prime minister who is arbitrarily chosen by the president (although the leader of the strongest party is the "traditional first attempt").

The communist party seems to be above 15%.

KSČM: Czechia is among the 2-3 most Westernized post-socialist countries in Europe but we're also the only country where the communists kept their name as well as 15+ percent of supporters. It's frustrating. After 1989, we had too much velvet on our hands to send all these folks to Gulag or a reservation in North America and they were lazy to buy the train tickets for themselves. So they keep on contaminating our political landscape. All the ideas we had in 1989 that the unusable voters of KSČM would just die away within 2 decades were just dreams.

ČSSD: The communist brand is disgusting but according to most economists, the program of the social democratic party that will probably get over 25 percent is (even) more communist than the program of the communist party. The social democrats are a gang of distasteful pricks (that includes several female pricks they have in the leadership). Some months ago, their shadow minister of finance said that all the entrepreneurs and self-employed people were parasites and he would be fighting against them. These jerks are full of the Marxist class struggle and they're not even ashamed of that. I would give them lives in prison for such plans; 25-30 percent of the nation will give them votes instead. Holy cow. The social democratic party harbors literally thousands of similar pricks, starting from its chairman Comrade Sobotka, a scumbag who is already boasting that he will "substantially" raise many kinds of taxes "to reduce the deficit" (in fact, we have almost balanced budget again in 2013). It's a full-fledged piggery.

TOP-09: It was founded in 2009 by a split from the christian democratic party, KDU-ČSL, and is led by two de facto co-chairmen, the 75+ years old Prince Karl Schwarzenberg who is the main "chairman for image purposes" and ex-finance minister Kalousek who is the main "brain chairman" inside the party. Schwarzenberg was the main presidential candidate against Zeman. Many people who voted for him claimed that they voted for the right-wing candidate. I always found this label fraudulent. Today, Schwarzenberg "stressed" that TOP-09 wasn't a right-wing party (!) and he even declared the social democratic pricks to be the only conceivable coalition partners for TOP-09. At least TOP-09 will hopefully soften the left-wing lunacy of the socialists if they are going to sleep together; however, the social democrats may end up preferring an open collaboration with the (other, self-named) communists – which used to be a taboo for social democrats a decade ago but it's no longer a taboo today because everyone realizes that all these bastards are the same kind of dirty commies and it is hypocritical not to sleep with the other group. It's a huge disappointment for me to hear that TOP-09 thinks that ČSSD is a more sensible coalition partner than ODS.

ANO: The word "ANO" means "Yes" in Czech but it's an acronym, too. It was founded in 2011 by Andrej Babiš, the second wealthiest Czech (born as Slovak), who earned billions in agricultural companies of a sort. The party is completely unreadable and free of ideas and ideologies, just claiming that it will do everything better than others. Babiš was probably an agent of the communist secret police, i.e. the member of the most harmful 1% of the Czechoslovak nation who were really hurting their neighbors and friends; there is an ongoing trial about these claims in Slovakia. At any rate, he became successful in business because he was already a "state-sponsored business person" during communism, not because he would be a talented man. It's plausible that ANO will behave in similar ways as the defunct Public Affairs (VV), a similar rich-folks-generated unreadable populist party from the 2010 elections that was constantly disrupting the government and was the main culprit of corruption, despite its harsh "anti-corruption" rhetoric.

ODS: The civic democratic party was founded by Klaus in 1991 but as it was moving to the left (since 2003 when they split, perhaps earlier), it was moving away from Klaus, too. At any rate, it remained the main center-right party in recent years. The scandal that removed the government a few months ago – a partly artificially engineered scandal around Mr Nečas' chief of staff and lover (whom he married weeks ago: true love) – undeservedly hurt the image of ODS. Instead of the result around 30% that ODS would get during some elections in the past, it will be around 10 percent, a difficult starting point to grab the chair of the prime minister again. Ms Miroslava Němcová is the party's prime minister candidate but she has no chance. Some people claim that ODS could sink below 5 percent. I am convinced that even those 8 percent is heavy underestimate but we will see. Klaus explicitly discouraged voters from voting for ODS, something that irritated ODS. In our private correspondence, I wrote him that I agreed with his points and values but I would be voting for ODS, anyway, because it seems to be the only realistic counterweight of the socialists and communists that I see and I care about this.

KDU-ČSL: The christian democratic party is a centrist one and it loved to be a member of all coalitions after 1989 for about 20 years. More recently, it largely evaporated from politics and was more or less superseded by TOP-09, its offspring, so to say. I used to say that KDU-ČSL were unreliable snakes etc. but in some sense, I feel nostalgia, I would prefer if they were much stronger than they will be – hopefully above the 5 percent threshold needed to get to the Parliament.

SPOZ: The party of Zeman's friends seems to be exactly around 5 percent so it is completely unclear whether it will get to the Parliament. That's despite the fact that Zeman won the direct presidential elections. Of course that I think it's a de facto decent party and it would be great if it could suck the electorate from the social democracy because Zeman is nominally a social democrat, too. Except that the voters know as well as I do that Zeman isn't a real left-winger and many of them want to vote for the genuine left-wing pricks like Comrade Sobotka so SPOZ will live on the boundary of elimination. Today, Zeman's friend and ex-communist Šlouf disabled the web domain of SPOZ which he controls because he disliked some porn that hackers posted there. ;-)

The Dawn: In Greece, it's a name of a fascist party. In Czechia, the name (longer form: the Dawn of Direct Democracy) belongs to Tomio Okamura, a half-Czech half-Japanese owner of a travel agency and the dawn is probably supposed to remind us of the Land of the Rising Sun. He loves fancy cars and is very simple and radical at the same moment. He rides his car all over Czechia and shouts that he wants a direct democracy like in Switzerland etc. except that it is not clear what he actually wants. Of course, except for the crazy things written in the program like confiscation of all wealth above 1 million dollars whose legal accumulation won't be proved – even retroactively; financial co-responsibility of politicians for their decisions, and so on. He will hopefully stay out of the Parliament but with the 4 percent estimates, it's far from clear. All traditional democratic parties refuse the Dawn as a coalition partner because it seems to be a one-man, dictatorial, non-democratic party.

SSO: Pro-Klaus, UKIP-like party of the free citizens led by Petr Mach, a young collaborator of Prof Klaus. I would normally vote for it but in politics, I am a hardcore realist and if I feel certain that this party won't make it to the Parliament, I just think it's a bad idea to vote for it. The reasons why it only has less than 3% are numerous. The folks in it are probably insufficiently assertive, unlike Klaus. They also refuse to grow e.g. to merge with Heads Up – see later – for various ethical reasons. But with such isolation from all other compatible groups in politics, one simply cannot build a promising party above the critical mass. So while the program to cancel various taxes and distance ourselves from the EU hard core are attractive things, I would say that these pals live outside the reality because none of the plans has any non-negligible chance to become true.

Pirates: It's a phenomenon in several European countries, mostly collecting younger folks who like the Internet, to download things, and who hate copyrights etc. This party would obviously be unable to provide the country with the leadership in most aspects of the human and political life. It's cute and of course that I would be happy if it sucked 10% out of the socialists or communists except that I know it won't happen.

Others, Heads Up: The Heads Up party is led by Ms Jana Bobošíková, an ex-boss of TV news who is full of energy and whom I strongly supported in her battle against her obnoxious, lazy, politically correct employees a decade ago. The main driver behind the dispute was a political one, of course, because Ms Bobo supported the Zeman-Klaus "opposition agreement" (a more refined version of a grand coalition at that time) while the PC employees were against it. She led the "Sovereignty" party before and has served as a lawmaker in the European Parliament. Despite a famous video in which this woman as a girl gives flowers to the last communist president Husák in front of the Prague Astronomical Clock, it's an indisputably right-wing party. Klaus didn't run for it but he publicly endorsed it. The polls only include it among "others" but it's the strongest "others" party. Ideologically, it's clear that it should be merged with SSO but for human and personality reasons, that won't happen. So none of these parties has any real chance.

You may imagine variations of the scores above and project possible coalitions. Almost no one wants to be in a coalition with almost anyone else. ;-) However, the social democrats are still likely to produce a government either with the communists or with TOP-09 (and perhaps with KDU-ČSL if it will be needed again). While I am frustrated by both options, the first one seems really terrifying.

Alternatively, if ČSSD and KSČM will lose sufficiently many votes compared to the polls, we may end up in a copy of the 2010 situation in which all the other parties except for socialists and commies have over 50 percent. In this 2013 case, KDU-ČSL would be needed and it would be harder because ANO seems an even less compatible member of such a center-right coalition than the Public Affairs (VV) three years ago. Moreover, the parties such as TOP 09 and ODS are less friendly than they were 3 years ago, and so on.

I won't proofread this blog post because the low expected number of readers of similar texts on Czech politics implies that the costs of the proofreading don't bring sufficient benefits.

Add to Digg this Add to reddit

snail feedback (12) :

reader mrkwong said...

Ah, but...the real question is 'why'?

At least it doesn't seem to be a system that elects kings, as we seem to have developed in the US.

reader Luboš Motl said...

Some people would say that these results reflect the scandals, raids etc. in recent years that damaged the image of the right-wing parties.

I don't believe that.

I think that we are just returning to the "normal" after some happier 2.5 decades with lots of right-wingers at the top. The Czechs are mostly a nation of peasants, workers, and mediocre intellectuals, and these folks simply want to vote for parties that defend such groups of people, and it's just not the right-wing parties.

reader lucretius said...

This is the most depressing post I have read so far on this blog but I hope it will also prove the most inaccurate (in the "good" sense).

reader Shannon said...

The horror....

reader Mephisto said...

nice, we have the 1. place. I am definitely among the 94 %. Corruption is synonymous with ODS which is the most corrupt party of all and that is why they deservedly have 8%.

reader AJ said...

If it's any consolation I tend to think that the situation manages the government and not the other way around. That doesn't mean that they won't steer your country in the wrong direction, just that they won't be able to take it too far before they are thrown out next election.

As an example, I offer my own small Canadian province. Four years ago we elected the most socialist party in our province for the first time. They put a push on for green energy with the resultant power rates increases easily out pacing inflation. If a blue-collar unionist industry became unsustainable, generous hand-outs were given to delay closures. Two weeks ago they were voted out and relegated back to their usual third place. They were the only government that did not win at least one re-election in 100 years.

It looks like France's experience will be similar to ours:

reader lucretius said...

This looks more promising (in more distant future). Unfortunately the do not give the detailed results:

reader Luboš Motl said...

LOL, great. It is often the case that the subgeneration of the currently 10-15 years old kids seems to have much more promising, constructive, happy, and right-wing political opinions than the generation of the 15-20 years old young people - even if I make the comparison with the latter group 5 years ago.

Promising but they will only vote in the next elections. ;-)

reader flyinghamster said...

you should run in the "physics party" - hard to argue with gravity! i would vote for you but im a texan.

reader jeannot said...

reader lucretius said...

Luboš do you know this David Cerny?

He seems to have the right attitude ;-)

reader lucretius said...

No doubt that this kind of "gesture" is not high brow and it is not what I mean by art. But it's political significance is another matter. By this "provocation" he managed to attract world wide attention to the Czech elections and the fact that they attempt to "rehabilitate" the communists. Images of the "finger" have appeared in the mass media, from Poland to Australia and the commentary is the same. It seems to me that has succeeded in making any formal participation by the communists in the next government less likely. But he seems to be also directly accusing Zeman of being behind this idea and I don't know how true this is. However, Zeman will now be viewed with more suspicion by those on the political right in those Visegrad countries where anti-communism is still very strong.