A look ahead at the elections, 50 days before polling day

It's exactly 50 days now until polling stations open in the Czech Republic, and the parties are gearing up for what looks like a tough campaign. Billboards are springing up across the country, and politicians are touring towns and villages to drum up support.

Martin Bursik
The biggest surprise in this year's elections looks like being the Green Party. Long outcasts in the political wasteland, the Greens now have a telegenic new leader - former environment minister Martin Bursik - and for the first time since the introduction of democracy in 1989 it looks like the party will enter parliament, apparently riding the crest of a wave of disillusionment with the other mainstream parties

Some polls have put the party on 10 percent, overtaking the Christian Democrats and even the Communists. Analysts, however, have sounded a note of caution, saying it's possible the Green vote will simply evaporate when election day comes around. Jan Hartl is the director of the country's best known polling agency, STEM.

"Our data clearly indicates that the quality of support for the Green Party is not very strong. It means that the alignment, the affiliation to the party is relatively of low intensity. A large segment of Green Party supporters are thinking about not taking part in the elections, so it might be a kind of support which will not be effective - i.e. in the end those supporters won't cast their ballot in the box."

The right-wing opposition Civic Democrats are still leading the field - they've almost every opinion poll over the last year, and look set to become the party with the biggest share of the vote in June. However that might not necessarily mean much - the party may be incapable of forming a majority right-of-centre coalition.

When you look more closely at the polls, it seems people are keen on the party but less keen on the party's leader, Mirek Topolanek, the man who took over from the current president Vaclav Klaus, who founded the Civic Democrats in the early 1990s. Mr Topolanek is seen as a bland, rather uninspiring leader, and Jan Hartl says if the Civic Democrats don't do well enough in the elections, it's almost certainly the end of his time at the top.

"It think it's very clear, that's the prevailing opinion. We can point to Vaclav Klaus. He was perceived as the most powerful leader in our political scene, the strongest personality, and it seems that Mr Topolanek stands in his shadow, and that he is not able to show much leadership. I think this is very easy to see, especially when compared to Vaclav Klaus."

So it's all to play for, and the next 50 days will be crucial for the parties jostling for position in the polls.