General elections just hours away
Less than twenty-four hours before polling stations open for general elections the two strongest parties on the Czech political scene - the ruling Social Democrats and the opposition Civic Democrats - are running a very tight race. Although it is not clear which of them will be first past the post it is almost certain that neither will win enough votes to set up its own majority government. Coalition and consensus is the name of the game on the Czech political scene and political analysts are already debating the pros and cons of various coalition scenarios.
As usual all five parties which are expected to make it to Parliament - the Social Democrats, the Civic Democrats, the Communists, the Greens and the Christian Democrats are keeping their options open. However some restrictions are surfacing. If opinion surveys are anything to go by then the Greens and the Christian Democrats are going to be the kingmakers - or power brokers- in these elections. Neither want anything to do with the Communists, who have come third in the last two elections. So it appears that the Greens and Christian Democrats will either swing right or left depending on which of the two big parties is in a position to make a first -or better - offer.
Despite the possible problems with a party that is new to high politics and not too consolidated and another which has a reputation of wrecking coalition governments - the coalition scenarios involving the Greens and Christian Democrats appear to be the most likely at this point.
So barring some unprecedented development in terms of voter preferences - the Czech Republic could be facing another stalemate followed by a fragile coalition government. For some this is proof that a majority election system might be preferable to a proportional one. But others, like Vladimira Dvorakova, highlight the importance of consensus.
"You know in the Czech Republic people are very strongly against compromise, against consensus, they consider it to be something immoral. This is very different from Western countries where the ability to find some compromise and reach consensus is regarded as a basic skill of any good and responsible politician. I think that compromises are also important because they do not polarize society, society is not divided into winners and losers and it helps to integrate society."