The Green Party wants to play a bigger role in Czech politics

Martin Bursik, photo: CTK

Somewhat in the shadow of high politics, the Czech Green Party elected a new leader over the weekend and made bold plans for the future. Although the party has never attracted enough voters to be able to enter the Lower House of Parliament and has just one seat in the Senate, its new leader, former environment minister Martin Bursik, feels that the time is now ripe for the Greens to play a bigger role in Czech politics.

Martin Bursik,  photo: CTK
The newly elected leader Martin Bursik won hands down over his rival Jan Beranek by advocating a bold election strategy. The party would fight for a place in the sun and it would do so on its own steam, rather than by joining forces with other smaller parties and confusing voters as regards their agenda. The party wants to address primarily environmentally-conscious voters with a vision but it is also aware of the growing number of disillusioned voters who are looking around for a new and trustworthy political force ahead of the 2006 general elections. Petr Stepanek is the party's deputy chairman:

"The Czech Republic has a big segment of voters who are unrepresented and those are voters who think in much longer terms than the next election year or the next four years, people whom I would call intelligent consumers who treasure quality of life and who understand that we need to plan much further ahead than our governments usually do. We want to address them and our campaign will target quality of life, of trucks to tracks - in other words, truck transportation transferred to railroads, and environmental tax reform."

Why has the Green Party failed to attract more voters in the past?

Petr Stepanek
"We did not fail to attract voters on all levels. The Green Party has broad experience at local government level. Over the past ten years it had hundreds of council members. Before this, the party simply was not up to "big league" politics due to a lack of experience. But with all of these people who have gathered experience over the last ten years in local councils I think it is finally up to that task."

The Czech political scene is becoming visibly polarized at the moment and many voters are disillusioned so they may not want to support one of the big parties. Are you hoping to attract protest votes as well?

"We are at an interesting cross-roads not just here in the Czech Republic but Europe-wide, where the left doesn't represent left ideas any more and the world is not black and white or left and right. And I think the best example of this is the post-election situation in neighbouring Germany. This is something we will have to deal with on all levels of government and the Czech Greens can play a role in this by representing people who are no longer ideologically left or right but who want a simpler system of governing and at the same time they want to keep their social standard high."