Social Democrats roll out big guns in bid to unseat Bem
In a around thirty days time the Czech Republic's weary electorate will be asked to go to the polls, four months after June's inconclusive parliamentary elections. This time it's local and Senate elections, and the capital Prague, of course, is of great importance. Mayor Pavel Bem - a member of the governing Civic Democrats - has been in the post for the last four years, but the Social Democrats are rolling out the big guns in a bid to unseat him.
Pavel Bem is now one of the country's most popular politicians, and has even been mentioned as a candidate for prime minister if Mirek Topolanek fails. For now Mr Bem wants to remain mayor and is standing for another four-year term. But the Social Democrats trundled out their own heavy artillery on Monday, announcing that the former Education Minister Petra Buzkova, who also regularly tops the popularity polls, will come out of her recent political retirement to challenge Mr Bem. So what are her chances? We asked political analyst Jiri Pehe.
The announcement came as something of a surprise, seeing as Ms Buzkova had said just weeks ago that she was retiring from politics to return to her original profession as a lawyer. She told the media she'd agonised long and hard before accepting the nomination, before finally deciding to say yes.
Petra Buzkova's decision comes amid criticism within the Social Democrats over the party's pre-election campaign - which asks potential voters such questions as "why are there drug dealers on this street?" and "why aren't there more council flats?". Unkind wags have pasted over the adverts with answers such as "Ask the Social Democrats" or "Because the Social Democrats were in power for eight years". Petra Buzkova's candidacy could serve as a welcome diversion from a campaign which some say has badly backfired.