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Newsletter (in English)


In the Czech parliamentary elections at the end of May, all the traditional parties lost

On May 28 and 29, parliamentary elections were held in the Czech Republic. The last elections four years ago ended with a draw (the right-wing and the left-wing parties got exactly 100 seats each) but thanks to corruption two social democrats supported the election of a right-wing government. This government fell a year ago and for the rest of the election period, a ”technocratic government” was in power which was essentially a hidden ”grand coalition” of the social democrats and the conservatives from the party ODS. This is a reason why these two parties lost the most votes in this election. The participation was only 62.6%, the lowest in Czech history. We will examine the results of the individual parties more closely.

SocDem – The winner? Yes, but actually the loser!
The “orange” Czech Social Democratic Party (ČSSD) won this election with 22,1% of the votes. But in the last parliamentary elections in 2006, they got 32,3%, so they lost almost a third of their voters despite the fact that they spent the last three years in the opposition (which is traditionally better for them). But this was no surprise. After the overthrow of the right-wing government in 2009, they created a “grand coalition” with their biggest opponent, the ODS. This government, supported by the social democrats, carried out all kinds of social cuts. They also failed to respond to the panic about the Greek crisis which was unleashed by the bourgeois media. The social democrats’ voters (mostly from the working class) went to other parties or did not vote at all.

ODS – The loser? Yes, but actually the winner!
The “blue” right-wing conservatives from the ODS led the government from 2006 to 2009. It was a time full of scandals and corruption. For this reason, the ODS lost more voters than all other parties. In the last elections, they got 35,4% – now they got only 20,2%, meaning they lost 43% of their voters. The replacement of the party leader few weeks before the election and the fear of a left-wing victory prevented an even greater fall. Their voters (businessmen and the upper middle classes) have switched to other parties, especially TOP09.

TOP09 – A new party? No, old and old-fashion faces!
The “violet” party TOP09 was formed one year ago when a group of Christian democrats left their party and, together with the small “Mayors party” and some ex-members of the ODS, created a “new” party. TOP stands for “Traditions, Responsibility, Prosperity”. They are a very conservative party with a pronouncedly neoliberal economic program. They took the ODS’ place as the hardcore neoliberal party and won a lot of new voters. Moreover, they made Karel Schwarzenberg their leader, an old-fashioned Austrian aristocrat who is very charismatic for right-wing voters and unfortunately also for the youth. In a students’ election, TOP09 won by a landslide. In the real election, they got 16,7%, the third best result.

Communist – Still the same? Yes, but still so bad!
The “red” Communist Party (KSCM) got 11,27%, down from 12,81% four years ago. The communists’ leader said he is very satisfied because they will have 26 members in parliament, the same number they had before. It’s true that other parliamentary parties lost much more, but during a capitalist crisis a “communist party” should have bigger ambitions. But the KSCM is just a classical, reformist, parliamentary party with a strong Stalinist odor. During the election campaign they were absolutely invisible (even the social democrats were more radical in their speeches). They weren’t able win to any young or even middle-aged people, and as pensioners die off, their base is slowly disappearing…

VV – Public Affairs? Rather Business Affairs!
The ”cyan“ Public Affairs (VV) formation is the fifth party which got into parliament. It is a new right-of-center populist party, led by a famous TV moderator and several young women. But in the background it’s controlled by several Prague businessmen. Even the bourgeois press and other right-wing parties called them “business affairs” instead of “public affairs”, but when they got 10,9% in elections, they became necessary for building a right-wing coalition and this criticism disappeared.

Christian Democrats and Greens – Gone!
Two parties have to leave the Czech parliament after this election – the Christian democrats and the Green party. The Christian democrats lost a lot of members and supporters after TOP09 split from them, but they had been falling slowly for a long time. This is the first time in 91 years when the Christian democrats won’t be in parliament after democratic elections. The Green party only entered parliament in 2006, where they helped to create an unpopular right-wing government, and it was expected they would be kicked out now.

Youth helped create right-wing government
Very unwelcome news is that it was mostly young people who helped the right-wing parties win. They were frustrated with the swamp of corruption and lobbying, so they voted for “new” parties – TOP09 and VV, despite the fact that these parties want to introduce education fees or step up the “war on drugs”. The youth were easily manipulated by the bourgeois media and voted against their own interests.

What does this mean for the radical left?
RIO is part of a broader anti-capitalist project called the New Anti-capitalist Left. The NAL called for critical support for the two big bourgeois workers’ parties (Communist and SocDem). This was not because we have any illusions in these parties. But as a means of presenting our opinions and anti-capitalistic policies we see this call for critical support as a form of united front with the masses of workers who still have illusions in these parties. Such a tactic offers opportunities to open a dialogue with the reformist-oriented masses of workers. The social democrats are linked with the working class via the trade union bureaucracy and the communists are the choice for the unemployed, the poorest layer of workers and the pensioners. The NAL had some success with critical interventions at the electoral meetings of the social democrats and the communists.

We expect a bigger mobilization of the working class and increasing struggles in the coming period as an answer to the government’s neoliberal agenda. We believe that the working class cannot be represented by the bourgeois state, regardless of who governs it – we need to destroy the institutions of capitalism and replace them with organs of workers’ power. The NAL as a unification project can represent an “embryo“ of a new revolutionary party fighting for this perspective, because we see that all current parties serve the interests of capital or aren’t able to present any real alternative. Unfortunately, the NAL’s program and election materials (similar to those of the NPA in France) speak a lot about the need for workers’ struggles but are ambiguous on central questions like the bourgeois state and parliamentarism. For the NAL to represent a real step forward for the socialist left in the Czech Republic, RIO will fight for the organization to adopt an openly Marxist program.

by Roman and Vojta, RIO Prague

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