PM on the ropes following election debacle
After two years in power, dissenting voices in the Civic Democratic Party are growing, and Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek could now face his greatest political battle. The prime minister is trying to weather the storm after his party was defeated across the board in regional elections last weekend. Rivals the Social Democrats trounced the right-of-centre party; previously the Civic Democrats held 12 out of 13 regional assemblies – now the Social Democrats control them all. The Civic Democrats are also at risk of losing a majority in the Senate when Czechs go to polls again this weekend, raising still more questions over Mr Topolánek’s political future.
Although he didn’t mention him by name, the president criticised Mr Topolánek when he suggested that regional Civic Democrat governors defeated in the election had paid an undeservedly high price. In other words, in his view it was the party leadership – and not the regional politicians – who were to blame for the Civic Democrats’ poor results. That in itself is perhaps not that surprising: it is well-known that over the years very little love has been lost between the two politicians. But what is less than fortunate for Mr Topolánek is the timing. It is common knowledge that Mr Klaus has long backed Pavel Bém, Mr Topolánek’s greatest potential rival and others, such as defeated central Bohemian governor Petr Bendl, have now said openly Mr Bém should challenge the prime minister for the post of party leader. Clearly, Mr Topolánek will have a fight on his hands.