Czech PM suggests conditions for communists to come out of the cold
Most Czech political attention is focused on the upcoming regional and Senate elections at the weekend. Prime minister Bohuslav Sobotka, however, is looking further ahead and has created a stir with comments suggesting that his Social Democrats could form a government with the communists following the next general elections.
The Social Democrats enshrined that position in the so-called Bohumín declaration at its party congress in 1995. The declaration banned cooperation with extremist parties and mentioned the communists specifically. That party position still stands although deals with the communists have been done at local and regional levels.
But with general elections due in around 12 months, Mr. Sobotka in an interview this week created surprise within his own party and among rivals with the suggestion that he would be willing to welcome the communists into government under certain conditions.
Prime minister Sobotka is not the first Social Democrat leader who has hinted that a government with the communists might be possible. And his coalition government partner, ANO leader Andrej Babiš has made similar comments. But is it a real possibility that after so long they could come out of the cold. That’s a question we put to political commentator Jiří Pehe:
“I think that the question of the communists’ presence in central government is not whether but when – when will they actually become part of central government. I think what is really important for the Social Democrats as well as for any other party is that the communist party would just be a junior partner. That is, I think, behind what we now here from Mr. Sobotka and what we heard a few weeks ago from Mr. Babiš.
While the communists could be tempted by a return to government, Mr Pehe warns that they could face a split between moderates and hard liners if they have to drop key polices enshrined by their their hostility to NATO and EU and they could also alienate their core constituency of anti-establishment protest voters.