Paroubek leads remarkable Social Democrat recovery
Earlier this year the governing Social Democratic Party was in crisis, with a large fall-off in support after then prime minister Stanislav Gross became embroiled in scandal. But now, according to a fresh opinion poll, the Social Democrats have made a remarkable recovery, with the backing of almost 23 percent of Czech voters.
Mr Paroubek was handed the top job just a year after leaving Prague City Hall for national politics, and the position of local development minister. He soon settled in as prime minister, coming across as a can-do guy, a dealmaker who would talk to everybody, even the Communist Party.
The prime minister has not been afraid to put his foot down either, standing up to President Vaclav Klaus over foreign policy. And his call for police chief Jiri Kolar to step down was heeded.
Mr Paroubek has also impressed on the international stage, with a string of high profile trips already under his belt. On his travels his ability to speak English has given him an automatic advantage over his predecessor Mr Gross, who often looked uncomfortable at international gatherings.
After the latest opinion Faktum Invenio poll put the Social Democrats second after the Civic Democrats (on 34 percent) and back in front of the Communists (just under 20), Mr Paroubek suggested on Thursday that his party could form the next, possibly minority government.
While Jiri Paroubek is set to be the Social Democrats so-called election leader next year, Stanislav Gross remains party chairman. Mr Paroubek's success so far has led to increased calls from within the Social Democrats for him to replace Mr Gross as party head. It is hard to imagine how the latter - so unpopular with voters - can stay on in the party's top post.