Does new political party stand a chance against Social Democrats and Communists?

Photo: CTK

Former Social Democrat MP Jana Volfova, one of the country's few women in politics, has founded her own party. With the Dignified Life Party, a name thought up by former Prime Minister and Social Democrat leader Milos Zeman, she aims to improve the lives of the elderly, women over the age of fifty, and people with disabilities. But although Ms Volfova has the backing of a number of former colleagues from the Social Democratic Party, political analysts view her chances of success with pessimism. Dita Asiedu spoke to political commentator Jiri Pehe to get his view on the new party's future:

Photo: CTK
"I don't think that the chances of this party are big. It's simply because it is a party that is very unlikely to gain a large constituency. Its only supporters would have to come from the conservative wing of the Social Democratic Party or the right-wing, if we can call it that, of the Communist Party. So that would be the political space somewhere between the Social Democrats and the Communists and I think that this is a political space that Jiri Paroubek, the current chairman of the Social Democrats, has been able to use and dominate quite well.

"I also think that if it were to succeed it would need politicians who would attract the attention of the public and Ms Volfova is not the kind of politician who could do that."

Jana Volfova, photo: CTK
The Social Democrats, though, are facing quite a lot of criticism, they are facing a lawsuit, and opinion polls suggest that their support is decreasing. The Dignified Life Party aims at improving the lives of the elderly, women after the age of fifty, and people with disabilities. Don't you think that something like that would sound attractive to potential voters?

"The policy programme of the party may sound attractive to a certain group of voters but the question is what the Social Democratic Party will do in reaction to the emergence of this new party. There has been a lot of talk about modernising the Social Democratic Party and in that case, yes, the political centre would become the target of the Social Democrats, they would probably move to the centre, and that would mean that they would also vacate the space between the Communist Party and the Social Democratic Party, giving this new party some space to operate in. But my feeling is that all that talk about modernising the Social Democratic Party is just political rhetoric and it's not going to happen very soon and therefore the Social Democrats would in the next few years still occupy the space that the new party would like to claim for itself."

Jana Volfova and Milos Zeman, photo: CTK
What do you think has been Jana Volfova's goal? It must have been quite clear to her that the chances at getting enough support would be quite low and that it would be very difficult to get Social Democrat members to join her party...

"I think that Jana Volfova's goal is to simply create a party of her own. She is a disgruntled former member of the Social Democratic Party, a former official, and I think that she simply wants to create a party that would somehow challenge the Social Democratic Party or at least take a few percentage points away from it. That seems to be her primary goal. But the problem is that unless her party gains more than five percent in popular support, it will have no effect because under the Czech electoral law a party does not qualify for seats in parliament unless it gets more than five percent and that is quite unlikely. We know from the past that such parties, although they might have been quite successful in opinion polls before the elections, were not in the actual elections."