Eurosceptics close to president to found new right-wing party

Václav Klaus, photo: CTK

Some disaffected Civic Democrats as well as some of the party’s conservative voters – disappointed with the current direction of their party under leader Mirek Topolánek – could soon have new options available on the political right. Figures close to the Czech President, Václav Klaus, made clear earlier that they were planning to found a new party tough on EU integration and tough on the Lisbon treaty – now that will be a reality. On Monday, the 33-year-old economist Petr Mach, a former advisor to Mr Klaus and the head of the conservative think-tank CEP (the Centre for Economics and Politics), announced the founding of the party was “99 percent certain” and just days away.

Václav Klaus, photo: CTK
It is expected to have close links to the Irish eurosceptical lobby Libertas which had significant influence on the “No” vote in Ireland’s Lisbon treaty referendum.

But what are the chances for such a party peeling away right-wing voters here, from the Civic Democrats - until now the only significant party on the political right? Earlier I spoke to political analyst Jiří Pehe:

“I think that there is definitely room for a new party of this kind because the Civic Democratic Party is suffering from a serious problem: it is a party that is ‘eurosceptical’ on the surface but its voters are not really hostile towards Europe. And I think that if a new party captures such voters, than the Civic Democratic Party will be able to function the way it should.”

And what, in your view, are the chances of a more eurosceptical party attracting broader public attention?

“I am not sure that the founders of this new party are not overestimating the strength of the eurosceptical segment within Czech society. I think that they might attract 5 – 10 percent of the popular vote but only if they are [unusually] successful. On the other hand, they plan on being closely associated with President Vaclav Klaus. Mr Klaus is a very powerful and charismatic political figure and perhaps the most successful of Czech politicians and as such I think he could attract more voters. I think that if this new party does indeed cooperate with Mr Klaus, its chances won’t be slim.”

Photo: CTK
We’ve already seen some rebels within the Civic Democratic Party weigh a possible move to the new party, although no one is committing themselves just yet. Where would that leave the Civic Democrats?

“On the one hand it would damage the Civic Democrats: it would mean the loss of some deputies and senators, weakening the party overall in Parliament. But in the long run I think it would strengthen them. It would allow them to get rid of their rather schizophrenic approach to the EU and it would probably be run by people more pro-European but conservative at the same time. As such, the party could have a more understandable profile than it has right now.”