Communist party haunted by past, party "rebels" calling for change
The past three months of complicated government talks have shown just how much the country's past is still affecting the present. The Communist Party's unwillingness to reform itself to a large extent "distorts" the Czech political scene. The Czech Green Party and the Christian Democrats - who would both be natural candidates for a centre-left coalition elsewhere in Europe - are seen as parties right of centre because they want nothing to do with the Communists. A reform of the Communist Party would clearly benefit everyone - including the Communists themselves -but can they do it?
"As far as the past is concerned we should not side-step issues and clearly state that we distance ourselves from the abuse of power committed by the party in the past, to confirm that we are ready to protect private ownership, to say that we are not against the EU but are ready to support EU integration and benefit from it - this and many other things."
Party chairman Vojtech Filip himself is not above criticism - he was accused of cooperating with the former communist secret service although a court ruled that he may not have been aware of what was happening. As a result he is not eager to hold an extraordinary party conference which could threaten his position.
Party hardliners say that these attacks in the media are intended to damage the party before the local and Senate elections - but reformers such as Jiri Dolejs say the party has to be in a position to actively counter them. However the pro-reform faction within the party is clearly in the minority and at best any reforms it manages to push through will be affected step-by-step rather than by leaps and bounds. Changing the party's name is not on Mr. Dolejs' agenda - he says he wants to change the content rather than the label.
"I do not think that a name change is on the table. Our credibility will not rise if we paint-over the name on our slate and remain the same on the inside - or even return to old practices".