Opposition Civic Democrats have new leader after 12 years
In its twelve-year-old history, the right-of-centre Civic Democratic party, ODS, has only elected its second leader. Following Vaclav Klaus in the post, Senator Mirek Topolanek will lead the party in the years to come. Mr. Topolanek was elected ODS chairman at the party congress in the town of Frantiskovy Lazne at the weekend.
Although Mr. Topolanek told the press on Sunday that he was quite touched after having been elected the party's chairman, he announced at the same time quite a bold plan to change ODS into a more open party:
"I'm going to put through a gradual change in the party's voting mechanisms so that more rank and file members can participate. I'll take a risky, but necessary, step to open up the party to new members, and introduce a new system of promotion within the party, so that the party's local clans are dissolved, but ODS's stability is not shaken."
Although Mr. Topolanek has made it clear that his party will in no way collaborate with the ruling Social Democrats, he said he was willing to cooperate with the right part of Czech political spectrum. However, the Social Democrats as well as their colleagues in the coalition government, the right-of-centre Christian Democrats and Freedom Union, are convinced that Mirek Topolanek is a kind of person easy to negotiate with.