Christian Democrat conference fails to give party new direction
Internal strife, corruption scandals, a lack of direction and dwindling party membership – such is the present-day image of the Christian Democratic Party, one of the three parties of the Czech governing coalition. The party’s weekend conference was meant to address these issues, but it brought no significant progress and has left political commentators speculating on whether the party has a political future. Daniela Lazarová spoke to commentator Jiří Pehe about what ails the Christian Democrats and how it could affect the ruling coalition.
Is it even clear who is in charge? Obviously, Jiří Čunek, the party leader, is now back in government posts but there is a strong faction around finance minister Miloslav Kalousek. Who has the upper hand and what can we expect?
The party was rebuked by the prime minister - at the weekend conference - for the way it has behaved in the governing coalition. Do you feel that the party in-fighting could undermine or threaten the governing coalition?
“The Christian Democrats have been a threat to the coalition for some time now. And it is not just that the party is not very high principled when it comes to keeping promises given to its coalition partners. There is also the question of its leader Mr. Čunek. Mr. Čunek has returned to government posts but the suspicions of corruption and racism surrounding him were never fully dispelled. The Christian Democratic party is now a very weak link in the ruling coalition and it could really be a matter of days or weeks before this party causes a major problem for the centre-right government.”
“I think that the Christian Democrats could have done something a few years ago – to modernize the party and come up with ideas which would be closer to the mainstream of European politics represented by the Christian Democratic parties in Europe - but I think they missed the chance to do that. This is a party whose members and supporters are by-and-large elderly people and the party has not been able to reverse this trend. Another problem is that because of party in-fighting the Christian Democrats have not come up with new ideas and a programme that would attract new supporters. So I am really pessimistic when it comes to the future of the Christian Democrats. If we add to all of these problems the fact that this is a “regional” party supported mainly by people in southern and northern Moravia we are looking at a party that could be out of the political mainstream in a few years time.”