Social Democrats Abandon Democracy For Populist AgendaČTK
Prague, April 16 (CTK) – The Czech Social Democracy (CSSD) is switching from a democratic and pro-European image to nationalist-tinged populism in order to regain its former voters who now prefer the Communists (KSCM) or the populist ANO and SPD movements, Jan Stetka writes in Hospodarske noviny (HN) today.
The Czech accession to the EU in 2004 was assisted and loudly hailed by then CSSD as the senior partner in the coalition cabinet of Vladimir Spidla, the CSSD chairman. At the time, no one would expect the CSSD to try to lead the country out of the EU one day, Stetka writes.
Despite former expectations of the CSSD’s continuing pro-EU approach, a half of the party’s current leadership wish a national referendum on Prague’s departure from the EU to be held, Stetka writes.
CSSD first deputy chairman Jiri Zimola and deputy chairpersons Jaroslav Foldyna and Jana Fialova even seem to owe their election to the posts to such radical views, Stetka writes.
The new CSSD chairman, Jan Hamacek, rejoices at the diversity of opinions in the party leadership. In fact, however, almost all its members adore President Milos Zeman [with his pro-eastern stances], and would not mind the party’s cooperation with the KSCM either, Stetka writes.
In addition, positions typical of the far-right populist and anti-EU SPD (Freedom and Direct Democracy) have been intensifying in the CSSD of late, he writes.
For many years, the CSSD paid dear for being “neither fish nor fowl”. Under some of its former leaders, such as Zeman (1993-2001) or Jiri Paroubek (2005-2010), it wanted to be an industrial party of the traditional socialist type. When chaired by Spidla (2001-2004) and Bohuslav Sobotka (2010-2017), it sought the image of a modern left-wing party promoting issues such as education and work with information, Stetka writes.
However, the CSSD failed to bring any of its various approaches to a successful end. This led to its liberal voters switching to centrist parties, while annoyed radicals switched to the KSCM and recently also to the populist ANO and SPD movements, Stetka writes.
The CSSD has decided to overtrump the latter trend. Its most radical and populist representatives have been elected to the party leadership. As a result, the CSSD has turned neither further leftwards nor further to the centre of the political spectrum, but shows a tendency towards nationalist populism, Stetka writes.
Foldyna has dissociated himself from values such as gender equality and multiculturalism. Fialova, for her part, criticised the inclusion in education project, which the previous CSSD-led government launched in order to integrate handicapped students in mainstream schools, Stetka writes.
Foldyna and Fialova, together with Zimola, compete with SPD leader Tomio Okamura and KSCM chairman Vojtech Filip in kowtowing to Zeman and criticising the EU, Stetka writes.
The CSSD leaders are backpedalling on the party’s previous enthusiastic promotion of Prague’s EU membership. In doing so, they have turned the CSSD’s image upside down, Stetka writes.
Actually, it is starting to be all the same if the nascent minority government of Andrej Babis, head of the election-winning ANO, will be kept afloat in parliament by the extremist KSCM and SPD, or by the CSSD, a party with a democratic past, Stetka concludes, adding that in both cases, the Czech Republic will see the dismantling of its post-1989 democratic system and Euro-Atlantic orientation.