Prague, April 20 (CTK) – The Czech Communist Party (KSCM) is on its deathbed but still it can harm the political scene and society, Josef Mlejnek writes in Lidove noviny (LN) today in an article highlighting the party’s post-1989 development and current role and prospects.
Mlejnek mentions several paradoxes linked to the KSCM, the latest of which has been striking since the October general election. The worst election result the party ever received since its establishment in 1921 gave it a real chance to join the government, though indirectly, for the first time since the 1989 collapse of the Communist regime, Mlejnek writes.
He alludes to the KSCM as a potential supporter of a nascent minority government formed by the election-winning ANO movement.
A similar situation occurred once before, after the mid-2006 general election, when a coalition of Jiri Paroubek’s Social Democrats (CSSD) and Miroslav Kalousek’s Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL) supported by the KSCM was negotiated, but it was eventually swept off the table by the KDU-CSL rank-and-file, Mlejnek writes.
In any case, the CSSD and the KSCM then together had 100 seats in the 200-seat Chamber of Deputies and were one seat short of striking a deal on a CSSD minority cabinet leaning on the KSCM, Mlejnek writes.
In the 2006 election, the KSCM gained almost 13 percent of the vote, and in 2002 it was even 18.5 percent, the party’s best post-1989 result, Mlejnek writes.
At the end of 2005, the KSCM had about 90,000 members. Their number shrank to 37,000 at the end of 2017, but it still remains the highest of all Czech parties. Nevertheless, Communists are dying out. The party’s rank-and-file has been shrinking mainly as a result of the demographic factor, and its prospects are therefore far from rosy, Mlejnek writes.
In 1948-1989, the then Communist Party of Czechoslovakia (KSC) was the totalitarian single ruler and KSC membership was a condition for people’s career advancement. After 1989, most members left the party. Out of those remaining in it, some trusted the Communist ideology, while others, mainly inflexible old members, were incapable of changing their lives and switching to another party, Mlejnek writes.
After the collapse of the totalitarian regime, the Communists and their families made up a special segment of society that nostalgically advocated the old regime and strongly criticised the new one, and also the USA, NATO and Western institutions, Mlejnek writes.
In elections, the KSCM also repeatedly gained the protest votes of all those who unfortunately decided to compensate their frustration by supporting the Communists, Mlejnek writes.
In the early 1990s, it was widely but wrongly believed that the Communists would die out soon. In fact, the secret of their survival is linked with another paradox accompanying the party, he writes.
The change of the regime brought about a change in the quality of life in terms of the environment, healthcare and quality of food. The average age has steeply risen, which also applies to members and supporters of the KSCM, Mlejnek writes.
If life expectancy had remained unchanged since the 1980s, the KSCM’s election gains would have dropped below the 5-percent parliament threshold a long time ago, he writes.
Is there any threat of a Communist dictatorship’s revival in connection with the party’s [possible semi-]participation in the government? Mlejnek asks.
Many Communists look very dangerous at first sight, he writes, mentioning KSCM deputy chairman Josef Skala, who will run for chairman at the party’s congress this weekend and who relies on a combat rhetoric that is Stalinist and pathological rather than revolutionary, Mlejnek writes.
Skala recently blamed the failure of communism on the West threatening with “nuclear mushroom clouds” and “not refraining from any villainy.” It was extremely hard for the Communist camp to face the West’s “power play”, and if bad things occurred in Czechoslovakia after the Communist seizure of power in 1948, they were “tragic mishaps in face of a sadistic besiege,” Skala said in February, cited by Mlejnek.
Skala’s “radicalism” hints at the third paradox linked to the current KSCM. The party is often labelled “radical left,” but the young generation finds staunch Stalinism unattractive, Mlejnek writes.
The KSCM radically ignores the new leftist issues, such as gender, the rights of minorities and animals and alternative lifestyles, because the old KSCM members resent these issues even more than capitalism. In this respect, the KSCM largely shares views with Tomio Okamura’s ultra-right Freedom and Direct Democracy (SPD), President Milos Zeman and the pro-Zeman wing in the CSSD, whom it is starting to resemble, because not even Russophilia or Putinophilia are its exclusive monopoly, Mlejnek writes.
The most risky aspect of the Czech Communists are their links to Russia and the present Kremlin regime. Anyone who would politically cooperate with the KSCM has to accommodate to these links to an extent, Mlejnek writes.
Whatever its congress result, the KSCM will remain in agony. However, sadly, even on its deathbed it can still geopolitically turn the Czech Republic towards Russia, Mlejnek concludes.