Christian Democrat and STAN coalition proves short-lived

Pavel Bělobrádek, photo: CTK

A video released in May attempted to cast a newly-emerging coalition between the Christian Democrats and the STAN Party of mayors and independents as a friendship built on courage, dedication and trust. Idyllic scenes showed boys cooperating together growing up to be the leaders of their respective parties – pledging to run together in the upcoming election. That all changed on Tuesday: although the parties still aim to cooperate closely, the coalition, formally-speaking, is dust.

Pavel Bělobrádek, photo: CTK
In the end it all came down to numbers: numerous recent polls showing that the newly-minted coalition of the Christian Democrats and STAN probably did not have enough to make it into the lower house. Some outliers suggested the opposite but even then hinted that the result have been close. Now we’ll never know. In the end, the Christian Democrats, trending in polls to pick up around 7.5 or 8 percent of the vote (with STAN at around 1.5 percent) blinked.

Rather than risking failure this autumn, the Christian Democrats backed away from the coalition at almost the last minute and offered instead that the latter party’s candidates run under the Christian Democrat banner instead - avoiding the strict 10 percent cut-off for the two-party coalition and having to meet only five percent. Christian Democrat leader Pavel Bělobrádek explained that in light of recent polls, a failure by his party to make it into Parliament would only have made things easier for opponents (namely ANO led by former finance minister Andrej Babiš who are widely slated to win).

“We simply can’t risk that there might be a single-party government. We had to accept and could not ignore the message from voters, heightened by the media, that we might not make it into the lower house. So we bet on a certainty.”

Although some in the top party echelons including Agriculture Minister Marian Jurečka insisted the gamble would pay off, others agreed that dropping the coalition under the current circumstances made the most sense. Former Christian Democrat leader Jiří Čunek:

Petr Gazdík, photo: Filip Jandourek
“In short, opinion polls did not show an expected gain among voters so we had to bet like this.”

STAN has not jumped to accept the Christian Democrats’ offer yet. Its leaders said throughout that they believed in the coalition and were in favour of it continuing. Where things go from here is a matter for the party to address next week. STAN leader Petr Gazdík:

“It is clear that the Christian Democrats don’t want to take any risks and want us to run on their ballot. We were against that from the start; that said, we are a democratic party and we respect their decision. It will be up around 50 members of the party’s top leadership to take a decision.”