Will Green Party grow in next week's election?

Katerina Jacques and Daniel Cohn-Bendit, photo: CTK

The Czech Republic's political parties are busy with last minute campaigning in the lead-up to next week's parliamentary elections. Green party leaders on Wednesday held a public meeting featuring a talk by co-President of the European Greens, Daniel Cohn-Bendit.

Katerina Jacques and Daniel Cohn-Bendit,  photo: CTK
Daniel Cohn-Bendit rose to prominence during the 1968 student protests in France and has since been heavily involved in left-of-centre politics in Europe. In his talk he said that the Czech Republic and Europe as a whole needed to be more environmentally minded.

"The social-ecological dimension of politics is a necessity that the Greens represent, and it's the only force who have this combination of social and ecology... environment protection, protection of the planet, and social equity. And for this, I say, it's very important that in Czechia now at the moment, this new party emerged also in the Parliament."

Many see the Czech Green Party as the dark horse of this election campaign. Recent opinion polls have shown that the party stands to receive more than the 5% of votes needed to enter the Chamber of Deputies. I asked the head of the Czech Green Party, Martin Bursik, to explain the recent upswing in their popularity.

Martin Bursik,  photo: CTK
"Frankly, I haven't expected such support, looking to our neighbour Green Parties with a long tradition, such as the German Greens... they got like 8.1 in the last elections, the Austrians got about 12 percent support, and I don't feel that the Czech population should be a more environmentally-sound population. The situation is that it's a combination of different factors: the Greens themselves, or ourselves, we have done a lot on our own development, because of fighting the factions, each other, and spending 99.99% of time by the internal debate, and suddenly everything has changed. In September last we started to concentrate on the public, we started to concentrate on the formulation of our program."

The Greens say that they can offer a comprehensive political platform, beyond ecological issues, and that they are ready to move out of their regional footholds to the national level.

But not everyone is convinced that support for the Green Party stems from a belief in their policies and principles. Some are saying that it is a protest against the more established parties. Political scientist Vladimira Dvorakova is skeptical about the party's long-term chances.

"I think that the main reason why the voters are voting for them is the fact that they are new. And, I would be very skeptical about the future of the Greens even if they would get into the parliament because there are very, very different streams within the Green Party. There are a lot of important personalities but somehow very independent. That is not quite normal in parliamentary politics. So it's really difficult to predict. It will really depend on the ability of the leadership to somehow integrate the party that is now torn by very different personalities and very different opinions."