Civic Democrats unite behind Klaus, but split on PM Topolanek’s role in coalition
The governing Civic Democrats held their national congress in Prague on Saturday. The conference, which is normally viewed as a forum for debate, served more this year as a reflection upon the party’s last few months in government. Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek called for more party unity, but praised the Civic Democrats for unanimously backing current president Vaclav Klaus in his bid to win another term. Mr Topolanek set out to display his strong leadership at the conference, but there could be a few cracks showing:
The prime minister made much of the fact that all of the Civic Democrats’ deputies and senators had pledged their support for current president Vaclav Klaus in next year’s presidential elections. But could this display of party unity, which Mr Topolanek drew so much attention to, actually spell trouble for the leader of the Civic Democrats? Political analyst Jiri Pehe thinks so:
Pressure is mounting on Mr Topolanek to exert his influence on the Civic Democrats’ coalition partners – that is the Christian Democrats and the Greens - to back Mr Klaus for the presidency as well. But Mr Topolanek seems reticent to do so:
“Mr Topolanek knows that it is really counterproductive to pressurize the Greens and Mr Bursik, simply because Mr Klaus is not the kind of politician that the Greens could ever vote for. Mr Klaus frequently describes the Greens as eco-terrorists and is a proponent of politics which are very alien to the Green Party, and in my opinion, it is very clear that the Green Party, and maybe even the Christian Democrats, will not vote for Mr Klaus.”
“I think that Mr Bem basically is now prepared to take over the Civic Democratic Party, and his appeals to Mr Topolanek to get Mr Klaus re-elected are just part of his strategy. I think that he is preparing the ground for himself, just in case Mr Klaus does not get re-elected. In this case, then Mr Bem together with Mr Klaus and his followers in the Civic Democratic Party, Mr Bem would launch an attack on Mr Topolanek.”
At the congress itself, Mr Bem used his speech to focus on party unity and better communication with the media. But with the Prague mayor having suggested that Mr Topolanek’s cabinet could fall if Mr Klaus is not re-elected, there could be a storm brewing.