Communists admit tactics behind Bobošiková nomination

Vojtěch Filip, Jana Bobošíková, Pavel Kováčik, photo: CTK

The Communists have admitted that tactics are behind their nomination of Czech Euro MP Jana Bobošíková as their candidate for president. On Wednesday party representatives effectively admitted to raising the stakes ahead of the election: last week’s vote proved inconclusive after neither of two candidates – neither Jan Švejnar nor incumbent Václav Klaus – gained enough votes. This Friday will see a see a second attempt and if the Communists are true to their word, it could be a different affair by far.

Vojtěch Filip, Jana Bobošíková, Pavel Kováčik, photo: CTK
Lopsided: in a word, that is how voting might turn out in Friday’s second presidential election, but not in favour of challenger Jan Švejnar, but in favour of incumbent Václav Klaus. Last week the Communists kept Mr Švejnar “in the game” by supporting him for two of the three rounds; this time the ballot might not be nearly as close. On Tuesday, the Communists nominated a surprise last-minute candidate, MEP Jana Bobošíková. She can’t possibly win, but if she gets Communist backing it will certainly affect the overall outcome of the election. Political analyst Jan Bureš:

“I’m not sure about all of the Communists’ motives but it clear that what is at stake is their increasing influence and value in negotiations. They want to see other parties take them seriously, and they want to see a willingness from other parties to make concessions. You could say it is a public relations ploy by the Communist Party. Of course, if Jana Bobošíková stays in the vote, it will help President Klaus and hurt Jan Švejnar. She would divide the opposition vote between Mr Švejnar and herself.”

Whether Mrs Bobošíková stays in is the big question: even the Communists themselves admitted just hours after announcing her, that her nomination was a matter of tactics: they have since made clear they would be willing to drop support for her in favour of Mr Švejnar but only in return for concessions. The most notable among them brought up in talks between the Greens and the opposition Social Democrats on Wednesday: a promise to block the stationing of a US radar base on Czech territory. Such a proposal is acceptable for the Social Democrats but certainly not for the Greens. Jan Bureš once again:

Jan Švejnar, photo: CTK
“The Greens are in a different position because they are a government party and they have to respect agreements – at least to a degree – with their coalition partners. If their partners, the Civic Democrats and the Christian Democrats support the radar they can hardly go against it, and even less sign any kind of agreement with an opposition party. As for the Communists’ position ahead of the vote, there are some within their deputies’ club who are well-aware that Jan Švejnar [with their support] stands a fairly strong chance against Mr Klaus. I think that there is a crisis within the Communist Party over how far they can go and what they can demand, and there is a chance they may step back.”

Whether the Communists themselves will back down can not be ruled out in the final hours ahead of Friday’s vote. But if they do, a number of scenarios are possible, among them keeping Jan Švejnar’s chances alive (like last week) at least until the third round of the vote. Legislators from the Civic Democratic Party backing Mr Klaus aren’t necessarily worried: they say they already have all the votes needed and that this time – unlike the last – their candidate will win.