Christian Democrats pin their hopes on Jiri Cunek
The Christian Democratic Party has a new leader. He is the controversial mayor of Vsetin, Senator Jiri Cunek - a man whom some see as a racist and others as a pragmatic, down to earth politician who could bring the Christian Democrats out of a rut. But who is Jiri Cunek and can he really turn around the party's fortunes?
"Not only the party is split on this issue - and his behaviour - the public is as well. There is quite a big group of people who support Mr. Cunek and approve of his behaviour. They see a politician who can solve the problem in a direct manner, a rough manner, who doesn't fear that he could be accused of racism and when he is accused of racism he just goes ahead and solves the problem anyway. Now the Czechs are quite critical with regard to the Roma minority and this could bring the Christian Democrats more supporters. On the other hand, it could also mean a withdrawal of voter support from people who are not happy with the way Mr. Cunek resolved the situation in Vsetin."
Although he was tough and decisive on the matter of rent-defaulters in Vsetin, Jiri Cunek knows that national-level politics require kid gloves. He thinks abortion is murder, but he would not support a law banning it because he is aware that the public would not approve. He accepts the fact that homosexuals can now enter into civil partnerships but he would not give them further rights, such as allowing them to adopt children. He thinks the party should not maintain a tough line against the Communists, but he is sorry they were not banned immediately after the revolution.
How then will he approach the talks on forming a new government? At the weekend party conference Mr. Cunek said he would support a broad coalition government with a long-term mandate.
"My preference is for a three or four party coalition which would serve a full term in office so that it can implement all the necessary reforms which this country badly needs."
"I think that Mr. Cunek is playing it both ways - both with the Civic Democrats and the Social Democrats. And I think that his party could come under fresh criticism for it - that they are a party that doesn't know where it stands and leans right or left depending on where they think they could gain the most profit. I think that the party now needs to make a clear statement about where it is, what it wants, where it wants to go and who it supports. And if they are able to get this clear message to the public it could help them to win public support and public approval. "