Civic Democrats celebrate victory

Mirek Topolanek, photo: CTK

Live music, food, champagne. The Civic Democrats are celebrating and they say their victory is clear. They also point to the high voter turnout at 65%, as opposed to 58% in the 2002 elections, as a victory.

Mirek Topolanek,  photo: CTK
The leader of the party, Mirek Topolanek, says the country has cried out for change:

"Sixty-five percent is more than in the last elections four years ago and I think voters understood that it is very important to take part in the elections and to decide what direction the country will take after the elections. The threat of a coalition between the Social Democrats and the Communists was very strong and the voters understood it."

Of course the burning question is: what will be the Civic Democrats' next step? The party, known here as the ODS, has ruled out a Grand Coalition with the Social Democrats. Vlastimil Tlusty, who may very well be the country's next finance minister, had this to say about the make-up of the country's next government:

"It depends. If a coalition between the Civic Democrats and the Christian Democrats gains more than 101 seats in parliament, I would prefer this coalition with just one partner. If we will need a third partner, then we will collaborate together with the Greens. That is completely clear."

Jan Zahradil and Mirek Topolanek,  photo: CTK
While exit polls suggested that the Civic Democrats would not have to hold coalition talks with the Green Party, the final results show that the next coalition government will have to be made up of three parties. All of them have one thing in common - they want neither to cooperate with nor be dependent on the Communists. So, coalition talks may go smoothly. The only area where there may be some disagreement is the country's tax system. The Civic Democrats insist on flat tax of 15 percent. The other two parties oppose the plan.

A coalition with the Christian Democrats may also be risky because the party has failed to support coalition partners several times in the past. But when I spoke to Jan Zahradil, who currently represents the Civic Democrats in the European Parliament, he said beggars can't be choosers:

"I think that we have to be realistic. This is like home cooking. You can only cook with the ingredients that you have bought in the store and are in your refrigerator. So, we have to work with the Christian Democrats as a real political force."