Analyst: Move against early elections will demolish Czech Republic’s reputation

Jiří Paroubek, foto: ČTK

The move by the Social Democrats to renege on an earlier decision and say it was now not backing the dissolution of the Chamber of Deputies, caught most observers by surprise on Tuesday. The question is what will be the impact on the country?

Jan Velinger spoke to political analyst Jan Urban to get his perspective.

“I would differentiate between what will happen with external relations and what will happen domestically. I am certain that it will demolish the reputation of the Czech Republic, showing the country as an unpredictable partner within the European Union and the international community as such. Internally, it will send a very similar message to the electorate. What the electorate will decide to do about it will be completely unpredictable.”

Mr Paroubek said that the reason for his party’s decision was for the “stability of the country”, citing the recent legal dispute. We saw the bill to lead the country to early elections contested at the Constitutional Court, and the court ruled in favour. Now there was danger of the same thing happening again. Do you think, as Mr Paroubek says, that this decision will bring some stability, at least regarding the constitutional dilemma?

Jiří Paroubek, foto: ČTK
“I think that it’s just a very cynical, tactical decision that does not take the interest of the country or the electorate into consideration at all. It was the Social Democrats who recalled the government in a vote of no-confidence back in March – in the midst of the EU presidency. It was the Social Democrats who, until today, said the country could not live without early elections… So this is the third or fourth change of mind and change of heart. So it’s not very trustworthy. The legal or constitutional argument is very weak because MP Miloš Melčák – who contested the first bill - made clear that this time he would not go against the new constitutional law because, as he put it, the lesson had been given and early elections needed to take place. As he said, the country was now much worse off under this Parliament than when MPs first took their seats.”

I’m sorry, but if you say it’s a cynical move, what do the Social Democrats gain from taking early elections off the table? After all, many polls up until now had suggested that they had a good chance of winning?

“I think that they are in a great panic for several reasons: one is the rise of the newly-formed Top 09 party. Second, there is growing resentment against Mr Paroubek personally in the regions. The polls you are quoting are from regions where the Social Democrats had much larger support in the last elections. So actually to rely on the polls right now would be very risky for them.”