Poll results shatter initial optimism about new-formed coalition between Christian Democrats and Mayors and Independents

Christian Democrats leader Pavel Bělobrádek, photo: Filip Jandourek

When the Christian Democratic Party and Mayors and Independents confirmed their intention to enter into a coalition for the autumn general elections it was hailed by many as an ambitious project reflecting a trait that is sadly lacking in Czech politics: willingness to cooperate. However a poll indicating that the coalition may not get enough votes to get seats in the lower house of Parliament has dashed the initial optimism, with some Christian Democrats now wanting out. I asked political scientist Vladimíra Dvořáková how much of a risk the two parties are taking.

Vladimíra Dvořáková,  photo: Noemi Fingerlandová
“It is really risky. It can be very productive, but when there are such warnings as this public opinion poll which suggests they would not get 10 percent of the vote together, and especially if there is no change in the next month or two, then I think it would be really risky to form this coalition. For the Mayors it is not so risky, because there is a high probability they would not be able to win seats in the lower house of Parliament on their own, but the Christian Democrats can be certain that if they run alone they will pass the 5 percent threshold needed to win seats. The problem is that when two parties form a coalition they need to get 10 percent of the vote and if voters perceive there is a danger they would not be able to do that then they will not vote for them so as not to lose their vote. So it is a psychological effect and there is growing nervousness among leading party members who would like to be in Parliament. So it is not an easy situation.”

So what is in it for the Christian Democrats? Why did they opt for this coalition?

Christian Democrats leader Pavel Bělobrádek,  photo: Filip Jandourek
“The Christian Democrats have for a long time felt the need to change their image because their image is very closely linked to the Catholic Church, and their old members are also connected to the Catholic Church, but in order to appeal to the younger generation they would need to change and there is some space in the Czech Republic for a conservative party that is based on values of Christianity or civilization –something like the German CDU. The chances are they could do that with the Mayors. Without them they would have to wait for another opportunity and it could happen that in another four years’ time they would not pass the 5 percent threshold. But right now they can be sure that if they go it alone they will get seats in Parliament. So it is a very risky decision, much will depend on their electoral campaign, there are some animosities among people from the two parties so putting together the coalition party ticket could be problematic – so it is hard to say what I would do if I were party leader right now – it is really not easy.”