Only a few months ago, no one would have expected that 2013 would turn out to be an election “super-year” for the Czech Republic. The first-ever presidential elections took place in January, while legislative elections were originally scheduled for the spring of 2014. But then the political scandal broke involving Prime Minister Petr Necas. The whole cabinet was forced to resign, and as it was replaced by the technocratic government of Jiri Rusnok (a man loyal to president Milos Zeman), it started to become clear that the country was heading towards a period of unusual political instability. The new cabinet failed to win a confidence vote and MPs eventually voted to dissolve the parliament, triggering early elections. Two main issues stand out in the forthcoming elections – the emergence of three to four new parties likely to win seats in the parliament, and the ambiguous role of President Milos Zeman.
The party expected to win the highest number of mandates is the Czech Social Democratic Party (CSSD) – to the detriment of Necas’ right wing Civic Democrats (ODS), a party ravaged by scandals of clientelism and alleged connections to the so-called “godfathers” (i.e. networks of powerful businessmen and lobbyists who have had great leverage over public procurements in the country). For this reason the Civic Democrats – one of the strongest and most established parties in post-revolution Czech Republic – is expected to receive only 8 to 10 % of the vote. Nevertheless, CSSD is facing internal problems as it is increasingly split among two factions – one that supports Milos Zeman (who was formerly chairman of the party) and one that wishes to keep its distance from the president.
So far, the polls attribute the second place to either TOP 09 (a centre-right party that formed the last coalition cabinet with ODS) or the Czech Communist Party (KSCM). But there are also a handful of ambitious new players who could have a considerable impact on the result of the election.
Full Article: A Czech election with consequences | openDemocracy.