Two top parties consider steps after first round of presidential election
The two biggest parties in Parliament, the ruling Civic Democrats and the opposition Social Democrats, are looking for a path forward after the first round of the country’s direct presidential elections. In the elections, the Civic Democrats suffered a rout with their candidate Přemysl Sobotka coming second-to-last. And while Social Democrat Jiří Dienstbier fared far better, coming fourth, he also failed to advance.
“If no one was alarmed by the outcome of the regional elections just a few months ago, this is the second similar result. That suggests that something needs to be done.”
Former justice minister Jiří Pospíšil agrees that the Civic Democrats’ weekend showing was nothing less than a wake-up call:
“The results should be a major signal for all of the party’s leadership as well as the party’s ministers.”
Some members of the party, such as MP Boris Šťastný, a long time Klaus supporter, are equally unhappy and have not minced words: according to Štastný the party did “everything in the last months and weeks to drive away core voters” – a situation the prime minister was supposedly meant to have remedied after the Civic Democrats’ last leadership convention.
“We have always backed other right-wing candidates where we ourselves did not succeed. In this case we are being consistent and I would like to announce that the leadership of the Civic Democratic Party supports Karel Schwarzenberg; we are asking our voters to back him in the second round of the presidential election.”
For the opposition Social Democrats who to back in the runoff is not as clear cut: despite a weak recommendation on Saturday for former prime minister Miloš Zeman as the only remaining “leftist” candidate, many remain wary. As much as a third within the party are said to back the former Social Democrat, but others like Jiří Dienstbier, the Social Democrat candidate who finished fourth in the first round, remain openly opposed.