President critical of party he founded

President Vaclav Klaus, photo: CTK

Faced with the task of having to appoint a government he does not approve of, President Klaus on Monday sharply criticized the Civic Democrat party he founded in 1991 and of which he is honorary chairman to this day. In an interview for the weekly Tyden he suggested the time may have come for the birth of a new party which would better represent right-wing voters.

President Vaclav Klaus,  photo: CTK
Nothing could have shown more clearly how loath President Klaus is to appoint the new centre-right coalition government. In an interview for Tyden he slammed his own party for betraying its policy programme and suggested that the present developments might prompt the birth of a new right wing party or movement which would bear in mind the sharp distinctions between right and left. The president was referring to his party's cooperation with the Greens - and to a lesser extent the centrist Christian Democrats, neither of which belong in the centre-right political arena. Political analyst Jiri Pehe says that like it or not, the party had little choice in the matter:

"The Civic Democratic Party has in the past programmatically tried to eliminate any opponents on the right. The Freedom Union could have become an ally of the Civic Democratic Party but it was considered to be an opponent or even an enemy of the Civic Democrats. So now the Civic Democratic Party is basically the only right-of-centre conservative party of any standing on the Czech scene and that of course creates problems because the party does not have natural allies."

With just one party right of centre - and not strong enough to rule on its own, one might conclude that this would benefit the left wing Social Democrats but even seventeen years after the fall of communism the Czech political scene remains distorted by the presence of the largely unreformed Communist Party. Fear of having to lean on the Communists is what drives the Greens and the Christian Democrats into right-wing coalitions. Jiri Pehe explains:

"The political spectrum in the Czech Republic still needs to develop because it has an unreformed Communist Party which in a way forces other parties to take tactical stances and behave in an unorthodox manner. Even the Social Democrats sometimes have to go across the political centre to create political alliances with right of centre parties because of the Communists. I think however that in the future the Green Party will probably move back where it belongs - that is left-of-centre."

Jiri Pehe believes that in a few years' time the influence of the communists will wane and the situation on the Czech political scene will become more transparent. Until then any party which enters into government must be prepared to compromise.

"At this point parties in the Czech Republic have to look for tactical and strategic alliances more than for pragmatic alliances. As long as we have a strong Communist Party I think it will stay this way. Unless of course the electoral system is reformed so as to allow the victorious party to rule without having to make compromises. But otherwise I think that political parties in the Czech Republic will have to go for tactical and strategic alliances and they will simply have to put aside some of their ideological goals."