Support independent journalism in Central & Eastern Europe.
Donate to TOL!

× Learn more
No, thanks Photo: Abbas Atilay
 
back  |  printBookmark and Share

The Remarkable Rise of the Czech Communists

After three decades in the wilderness and months on from a historic electoral defeat, the party is knocking at the doors of power.

28 June 2018

When Bob Dylan sang “For the loser now will be later to win” half a century ago, he probably wasn’t thinking of any particular political group, much less Communists. But the line seems prophetic today, in light of the Czech Communist Party’s latest achievement.

 

After more than two decades as a marginal force, the party now finds itself with a say in government, the result of a deal struck by Prime Minister Andrej Babis to stay in power.

 

Babis was sworn in by President Milos Zeman yesterday, after eight months of fraught talks to cobble a coalition together. He will take charge of a minority government comprising his populist Ano party and the Social Democrats (CSSD). The Communists (KSCM) pledged to support the government in return for a say in policy.

 

Opposition parties condemned Babis’s successful wooing of KSCM, and the fact he was sworn in on the day commemorating the victims of Communist persecution.

 

“We consider this a mockery to the victims of the Communist regime,” said Petr Gazdik, the leader of the centrist STAN party.

 

“I am afraid that this government is absolutely indifferent to any victims of Communism,” said Jan Bartosek, head of the Christian Democrat parliamentary group.

 

As The Irish Times notes, the new cabinet must now be approved by the same parliament that rejected Babis’s previous cabinet, largely because he figures in a case concerning fraudulent use of European Union funds.

 

If the government is approved, it remains unclear just how much say the KSCM will have. The party appears to have won its demand that a pledge to boost foreign military missions be removed from the coalition’s policy statement, the news site Info.cz reported yesterday, but its demand that churches pay tax on restituted properties does not appear in the revised statement.

 

The left-of-center daily Pravo foresees a rough time for the new government.

 

“While for Babis it’s enough to map out what will arouse the most emotions in people … [CSSD leader Jan] Hamacek has made clear the party’s readiness to push its unalloyed leftwing priorities,” the paper writes, as cited in a CTK press roundup.

 

The E15 daily is perturbed by the Babis-Communist alliance, writing, “For the first time in 28 years the leading Czech politicians will once again await the outcome of meetings of the Communist Party Central Committee.”

 

 

  • Hamacek has been named interior minister and for the time being will also take charge of the Foreign Ministry. Babis and Zeman rejected the CSSD’s preferred candidate for foreign minister, who holds more liberal views on migration.

 

  • Ironically, both CSSD and KSCM suffered heavy defeats in October’s elections. The Communists won just 8 percent of the vote – their worst result since falling from power in 1989 – and CSSD finished sixth, losing 35 parliamentary seats.

Compiled by Ky Krauthamer

back  |  printBookmark and Share

TOL PROMOTION

Transitions magazine = Your one-stop source for news, research and analysis on the post-communist region.

 

Sign up for the free TOL newsletter!

 

MULTIMEDIA PROJECTS

Moldovan diaries

The Moldovan Diaries is a multimedia, interactive examination of the country's ethnic, religious, social and political identities by Paolo Paterlini and Cesare De Giglio.

This innovative approach to story telling gives voice to ordinary people and takes the reader on the virtual trip across Moldovan rural and urban landscapes. 

It is a unique and intimate map of the nation.

RELATED ARTICLES

© Transitions Online 2018. All rights reserved. ISSN 1214-1615
Published by Transitions o.s., Baranova 33, 130 00 Prague 3, Czech Republic.