Czech Social Democrats launch Christian platform

The Czech Republic is famed as one of the most atheistic countries in Europe. But that has not deterred the Czech Republic’s biggest left-wing political party – the Social Democrats - from announcing the creation of a Christian platform. The party says the platform has a long-term goal to forge links with churches, believers and organisations.

František Bublan
The Social Democrat initiative was launched by some of the party’s big names such as former finance minister Bohuslav Sobotka and former interior minister František Bublan. Part of the message is clearly to present the party as a broad church which is not completely secular and not anti-Christian.

Mr Bublan has been drawing up plans for the platform over the last year after attempts by the party to do something similar in the early 1990’s collapsed. He says there is a clear place for such a platform within the party.

“I believe that Social Democrat policies are in many respects close to Christianity and have the same values that Christians profess such as solidarity, helping the weak and such like. So I think it has got a place in the political party and will be very useful”

But with parliamentary elections on the horizon in October and the traditional home for Christian votes – the Christian Democrat Party- weakened by rifts, some political commentators have interpreted the Social Democratic conversion as a blatant bid for believers’ votes.

Bohuslav Sobotka
Petr Just is a political analyst who teaches at Prague’s Metropolitan University. He believes the platform is targeted at wavering Christian Democrat voters who are wondering whether the party will get into parliament this time round.

“This was in my opinion the main message of establishing the platform: to let people know that there is a space and place for Christians in the Social Democratic Party as well”

He says the appeal to Christians has the elections clearly in sight and could be followed by other initiatives - for example reaching out to business – as every vote looks like it could count.

“The Social Democrats are in my opinion trying to reach the goal of winning the elections, not much caring how they are going to win it or what it will cost. The goal is quite simple: to win the elections. And therefore they are trying to, let’s say, enlarge their portfolio and widen their interest in other groups that they have not addressed much until now.”

But the Social Democrat’s František Bublan says the platform is not an example of electoral opportunism.

“I do not think it will have a very big impact; that a lot more people will vote for us. That is not the purpose of the platform. The platform has long-term aims to achieve something in the coming years and not just a pre-election thing to get some more votes; certainly not.”