Saturday, June 03, 2006

ODS wins Czech elections

The right-wing euroskeptic Civic Democratic Party (ODS) led by Mr. Miroslav Topolánek - and founded by Václav Klaus, the current president, in 1991 - will become the winner of the 2006 Czech parliamentary elections that ended 170 minutes ago. They will have 35.4 percent of the vote. Incidentally, they also plan to establish a new fraction of the European Parliament together with the British tories.

Figure 1: Mirek Topolánek, the current leader of the right-wing ODS

The turnout was 64 percent, higher than 58 percent in 2002 and much higher than the 25 percent turnout in the elections to the European Parliament in 2004. But it is less than 74 percent in 1998.

Figure 2: Jiří Paroubek, the current PM, and the mayor of Springfield are two different people. Paroubek has also learned German (video).

The second party, the social democrats (ČSSD) who currently lead the government and whose chairman is Mr. Jiří Bulldozer Paroubek, not to be confused with Joe Quimby, will score 32.3 percent. Czechia has not yet seen such a high score of the two strongest parties. The current situation resembled the two-party system a bit which is a good trend, I think. Both main leaders, Paroubek and Topolánek, were the main people in the campaign.

Invalid elections?

After the results were announced, Paroubek - the prime minister - has made a hysterical speech and declared that he won't shake the hands of the ODS politicians, and verbally attacked all media and right-wing politicians. He incorrectly assumes that his party lost because of the scandals about the social democratic party. The real reason is explained below.

Paroubek also said: "Democracy was assaulted as much as in 1948. The only difference is that the blue totalitarianism is coming. We won't tolerate it and we won't allow ODS to grab the executive power." He described a lot of murderers connected with the social democracy, and enumerated about 100 names of villains, as well as particular murderers who are disconnected from particular members of Paroubek's family. Paroubek is nuts.

He said that he may plan to carry on steps to challenge and invalidate the election results because the media did not paint a true picture of the social democrats - which would definitely be the first such a step in the Czech democratic history, a step lacking any substance whatsoever. Paroubek will not allow Topolánek to create a new government also because Topolánek does not have a majority anyway. ;-)

ODS, according to its vice-chairman Petr Nečas, won't comment on Paroubek's speech much because it does not deserve it. "We have seen a language of a disappointed politician with a panic fear that they lose the power - a man who uses the language of the communist officers from the normalization era (1968-1989) and who is afraid that various scandals will be looked at. He is ready to do anything to prevent such developments," Nečas said very calmly.

The boss of the Greens Mr. Bursík - under whom the party is a center-right one - said that after Paroubek's speech, he won't pick Paroubek's phone calls. The chairman of the Christian Democrats, Mr. Miroslav Kalousek, identified Paroubek's words as the "extremum of painfulness". President Klaus was shocked, too, but he still considers social democrats to be a democratic party, despite the speech. Political scientists also denounced Paroubek's speech and declared that there is no real change that the results could be challenged.

The communists lose

The communists (KSČM) will get 12.8 percent, much less than 18.5 percent they received 4 years ago: they have lost about 200,000 votes. In their headquarters in the Political Prisoners' Street in Prague (they chose this street because their party was the #1 in killing them), they feel deeply disappointed. According to The Reference Frame, the main reason of their relative failure has been the great situation of the Czech economy. In other countries, this would mean that the people would support the parties of the existing government. In the Czech Republic, a working economy means that the people vote for the right-wing party and avoid junk parties such as the communists - and to some extent they also avoid the social democrats.

It's a simple rule - a rule that Paroubek does not understand. Things are going well: capitalism is fine and right-wing politicians are ahead. Things are not going well: capitalism is bad, socialism becomes a dream, and left-wing populist and hate parties are getting stronger. The communists' explanation is of course different: they argue that people did not vote for them because a restaurant in Southern Bohemia offered free beer for the communist ballot - assuring that the drinkers won't vote for them. ;-)

Figure 3: Jiří Dolejš, a young communist deputy who was attacked by a violent anti-communist

Fourth, fifth, and small parties

The Christian Democrats (KDU-ČSL) have lost many votes, too, and they only have 7.2 percent. The last party in the Parliament is the colorless Green Party (Zelení) with 6.3 percent, newbies in the assembly. The remaining 21 parties get around 5 percent together which was not enough for them to become a part of the official political spectrum: you must surpass the 5 percent cutoff per party. The parties below 5 percent did not even reach 3 percent necessary to get any funding. The list of losers includes the Freedom Union (US), a party of traitors who left ODS several years ago and who will have to evacuate the Parliament and give their offices to the Greens.

The campaign was focusing on personal issues rather than ideas that were secondary. As you have seen, fists have played a role, too. Mr. Miroslav Macek who has bravely defended his wife with his own fists is still a member of the winning party, as far as I know. ;-) Let me end with a summary:
  • ODS (right-wing) 35 percent, 81 deputies
  • ČSSD (social democrats) 32 percent, 74
  • KSČM (communists) 13 percent, about 26
  • KDU-ČSL (Christian democrats) 7 percent, about 13
  • Greens 6 percent, about 6

450 Czech citizens voted in the U.S. - New York, Chicago, and two more U.S. cities. The results were a bit different:

  • ODS 48 percent
  • KDU 17 percent
  • ČSSD 13 percent

All of the Czechs - friends of Jiří Vaníček from IAS - who met in John Harvard's Pub last Friday would vote for the right-wing ODS. This party wants to establish a flat 15 percent tax, among other things.

Dramatic punch line: 100 vs. 100

ODS may have a hard time to create a new government. Its natural partner, the Christian Democrats, were not too successful. It is not quite clear whether the social democrats plus communists will exceed one half of the deputies: currently the two are expected to add up to exactly 100 of 200, less than the 111 deputies after the 2002 polls; the remaining 3 parties therefore can't form a majority government unless things change a bit.

What a perfect balance between left-wing and non-left-wing parties (which in the Czech context include the Greens, too).

Consequently, ODS needs at least an infinitesimal support of at least one social democrat to form a government; of course, a support of communists is nearly unthinkable. The next obvious alternative is a minority government of social democrats and greens that would be supported by the communists - which is certainly not a tabboo for Paroubek but it is more or less opposed by the chief of the Greens. The last alternative is the grand coalition - ODS and ČSSD - but that could clearly work only after Paroubek is eliminated from the top leadership of ČSSD.

The communists are ready to support the social democratic government even if they don't get any seats in it. This ultraminority government could work if the total score of the left - also called KSČSSD - jumps above 100.

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