BHHRG

About BHHRG

The British Helsinki Human Rights Group monitors human rights and democracy in the 57 OSCE member states from the United States to Central Asia.
* Monitoring the conduct of elections in OSCE member states.
* Examining issues relating to press freedom and freedom of speech
* Reporting on conditions in prisons and psychiatric institutions

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Parliamentary elections in Czech 2002: Changes in approach
HITS: 1916 | 14-04-2005, 04:23 | Commentaire(s): (0) |
 (Votes #: 0)

As the June 2002 election approached leading figures in the ČSSD were determined to ensure that the events of 1998 did not repeat themselves. The party was basically split between older, prototype Socialists and young modernizers of whom the Interior Minister, Stanislav Gross and Chamber of Deputies deputy chairman, Petra Buzková (both close to Havel) were the most prominent members. The leader of the ČSSD and prime minister, the mercurial Miloš Zeman, resigned as party leader in 2001. His successor, Vladimír Špidla, is a colourless but more predictable figure. Vladimír Špidla made plain that should the ČSSD win the election there would be no more opposition agreements with the ODS and that their preferred coalition partners would be the US-DEU and KDU – the two parties that remained after the Quad coalition collapsed in 2001 and which fought the election as the Coalition bloc.

Of course, such a marriage should present complications for those taking part. The ČSSD 2002 election programmed contains much old-fashioned Socialist baggage, including increased social welfare payments, while the Coalition (the US in particular, its DEU component being largely supine) campaigned as committed free marketers. Should one or the other entity be seen to compromise it would represent a fraud on the electorate. But the small print of an election programme is often forgotten when the glittering prizes are won – the SDK coalition, winner of the 1998 Slovakian parliamentary election, soon reneged on its promises to build half a million houses and create thousands of jobs, instead it put 22% of the population out of work within a year of coming to power. The differences in the electoral platforms of the coalition partners are no doubt, ultimately irrelevant as they now have power. There are, after all, long-standing close ties between the ČSSD modernizers and the US – and with President Havel. Many of them (including Mrs. Buzková and the US’s Vladimír Mlynář) were leading actors in the Czech TV crisis, siding openly with the strikers.

However, the coalition agreement which was finally drafted in July 2002 only gives the government a majority of one and, as such, it could present future problems. For example, some of the more sincere socialists in the ČSSD parliamentary caucus might refuse to support some contentious issue or other – like repealing the Beneš decrees - if such a proposition came before parliament. However, it is unlikely that the ODS as the leading opposition party with 58 seats would want to be seen cooperating with the Communists who came third in the poll with 41 seats. If that is the case, the new government will be secure.

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