Regional Elections in Orange

„An orange Tsunami” has swept through the Czech lands, the centre- left/”socialist” Social Democrats (CSSD) scoring a sweeping victory over the governing Civic Democrats (ODS). Voters were selecting their regional administration and a third of the Senate. Both grounds were traditionally favourable to the Civic Democrats, but this time, with the exception of Prague, they were overwhelmingly beaten. Also, local elections often help smaller parties, but this time it was almost completely a two- party contest. Even the two smaller parties from the governmental coalition had depressing results.
Jiří Paroubek suffered a heavy blow recently as one of his friends (or, at least, acquaintances) shot dead another. The killing took place on Paroubek’s party, when he was already gone. It is reported that the incident was preceded by a betting game: our socialist leader´s buddies were competing about the amount of money (meaning tens to hundreds of thousands CZK) they have in their purses at the moment. Anyway, the fact that the top left- wing politician throws ultra- posh parties with guys who go to a pub with a loaded gun behind the belt, did not prevent his party from winning. The reasons are obvious: The Civic Democrats are related to massive losses of money during the 1990s, the Communist Party are a league on their own (not meant as a compliment), the Greens are lost in space and the Christian Democrats have confused and incompetent elites. That is how many people see it.

The right- wing ODS paid not only for some unpopular reforms, or adjustments, but also for weak communication, inter-party and inter-governmental disputes and, in many cases, suspicious policies. And, chiefly, for their opponent´s ability to shift the emphasis from local issues to the issues concerning the whole republic. The election is more about technical, smaller- scale and ideology- free decisions, but the CSSD managed to persuade the voters that this is a referendum on the current government.

So, the current government, and mainly its leader have reasons to be nervous. It now seems almost certain that Topolánek will soon cease being the party chairman.
Anyway let´s, at least, have a quick look at the new Prague senators. The only three right-wing oriented senators who succeeded in this election were elected in Prague.

Zdeněk Schwarz is probably the best known of the three. He is the leader of Prague ambulance service since 1998. He was an independent candidate on the ODS list and so far it seems he won’t support everything the party stands for. He does not favour, for example, privatization of hospitals, which is something the current Minister of Healthcare is getting quite close to. Tomáš Kladívko was already an MP. He decided to focus on several recently discussed themes: for example a smoking ban in all restaurants (he’s against), the US radar base (he supports it) and the new National Library by Jan Kaplický (yes, but not on Letná). Miroslav Škaloud is a newcomer in top- level politics, one of many local politicians, who, after gaining a secure position, goes higher. That’s a must for any party, to have new elites coming from the lower levels of politics and it is something that the Social Democrats will have to face as their new regional leaders will, in time, challenge the centre.

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