Ondřej Liška elected Green Party chairman

Ondřej Liška, photo: CTK

The acting chairman of the Green Party Ondřej Liška has been confirmed in the post at a Green Party conference, defeating two other contenders by a large margin. While the new Green Party leadership believes it now has enough support to curb internal infighting and address waning voter support, leading the party to success in the next elections will be an uphill struggle.

The newly elected chairman of the Green Party Ondřej Liška thanked the party conference for support in Brno on Saturday. After a six-month term as the party’s acting chair, he received 170 out of 252 votes, defeating his nearest rival Matěj Stropnický by a landslide. After the vote, the new Green leader told Czech Radio it was his vision that had persuaded the delegates.

Ondřej Liška,  Matěj Stropnický  (right),  photo: CTK
“I have to say the number of votes I received was a pleasant surprise for me, because I did not expect such massive support and so strong a mandate. I appreciate it a lot, and as I said in my thank-you speech, it’s not a mandate for me but for the concept I presented here, and that concept won.”

After the general elections of 2006, former leader Martin Bursík took the Greens into a coalition government and began to pursue a liberal rather than core environmental agenda. This lead to the party’s near collapse, when two of its MPs joined the opposition in lower house of Parliament and eventually helped topple the government in March this year.

Ondřej Liška,  photo: CTK
The Green’s manifesto as presented by Ondřej Liška – as a party with a strong anti-corruption message and a serious reform drive – might have won at the party conference. However, it no longer seems to attract much popular support. Despite backing from former president Václav Havel, polls repeatedly suggest the Greens will not pass the five-percent threshold needed to enter the lower house at the next general elections. And political analyst Jiří Pehe believes the weekend’s conference did little to change that.

“I think that many voters who abandoned the Greens but may consider voting fore them again wanted to hear a different message than what they heard at the congress where Mr Liška said the Green Party was a centrist party which will choose its coalition partners depending on its priorities, and so on. This was a rather vague message, and I think that many voters who abandoned the Greens wanted to hear that this time around, if they make it into Parliament, they will behave in a more principled way.”

Photo: CTK
Green leader Ondřej Liška admitted on Saturday that the party spent too much time and energy on infighting. The six months left before next spring’s elections will show whether he is able to leave all this behind, or whether under his leadership the party will sink into insignificance.