Communists break 'taboo' with first parliamentary chair since 1990

Communist Party deputy chairman Miloslav Ransdorf (right), photo: CTK

The only party to increase its vote in last weekend's elections was the Communist Party, which took 41 of the 200 seats in the lower house. The winning Social Democrats are refusing to consider a coalition with the Communists, but the Communists do look set to gain one of the deputy chairs of the Chamber, as well as the chairs of important committees. A taboo - as many of Wednesday's dailies point out - has been broken; the Communists have not held such posts since just after the Velvet Revolution. Ian Willoughby spoke to Communist Party deputy chairman Miloslav Ransdorf, and asked him if his party had started talks with the Social Democrats over the positions.

Communist Party deputy chairman Miloslav Ransdorf (right), photo: CTK
"There was first contact yesterday. They expressed their long-term opinion that according to the democratic rules of the parliament, each party should have appropriate representation in the leadership of the parliament. It will depend on the number of people nominated for the leadership of the parliament. If the chairmanship of the parliament would be composed of three persons, it is not so sure that a representative of the Communist Party would be included. If the chairmanship would be composed of five persons, it is sure that a representative of our party would be involved."

That number changes? It isn't always the same?

"It is not sure what would be the number of persons in the leadership of the parliament."

It looks now like there will be a Social Democrat-Coalition (Christian Democrats and Freedom Union) coalition. They would have a very slim majority, and the (grouping) Coalition is weak; do you expect that government coalition would last long?

"I'm convinced that it is impossible to have a long-term coalition with such a slim majority. It is in reality no majority, because there are two independents in this coalition of 101. So the government would depend on the evangelical priest, Mr Karasek, who is independent."

In the past the Communist Party have often been written off. Now you have gained in strength - did that surprise you?

"The strength of the Communist Party is something which didn't surprise me, but it is something not so much dependent on our brilliant activities (laughs) in the election campaign. I criticised many times the preparations for our election campaign. In my opinion it was arranged in a very bad way. This success cannot be something satisfying us completely."

Do you think in the future if you improved your campaigning style you could do even better?

"If we arranged reforms in the framework of our party, and if improved our communication with the society, we could improve our results. But now in many cases it was a protest vote, and our task is to change the protest vote into a positive vote."