The ODS Congress

The most powerful political party on current Czech political scene has just held a major congress, one that should set its direction for years to come. It brought several very significant events.

First, the founder, the brain, and the soul of the Party, President Klaus, cut his ties with his creation. The relationship between the party, lead by Mirek Topolánek, and the Prague Castle, was increasingly problematic. Klaus never liked the PM, he saw him as far too pro- European and not committed enough to the mission of the free trade. Since all indicators have been showing that Topolánek will keep the seat, the President decided he’s had enough.

Pavel Bém, the very controversial Prague mayor and Klaus’s protégé, challenged the Prime Minister. Although he is popular and had a substantial section of the Party on his side, Bém lost. There are many reasons why, but the primary may be that he didn’t really manage to offer a conception, he failed to say what exactly was he going to do. Would he keep the coalition government? Would he go for a minority government? Who would he like to work with? What would he do with the economic reforms? We don’t know, all we know is that he would like the Party to its more right- wing roots and that he’s against the Lisbon Treaty. Being radically right- wing may not be the wisest thing to do, with prizes rising and the financial crisis storming around the globe and even the ODS voters show to be very pro- European. So who was he planning to amaze with this strategy? I don’t know, all I can say is that I expected more foresight and smarter tactics from the experienced “bureaucrat”.

Now Topolánek may go on with the coalition and with the centre-right agenda. The party remains divided, part of it is clearly loyal to Klaus and decidedly anti- EU (no, not just “euro-sceptic”) and against any features of welfare state. This is a section which may damage the party and the government, since, apart from being too aggressive and ideological, these thoughts will hardly be popular.

The first man in the party, just below the chairman is now David Vodrážka, a newcomer to the top level politics. His election was quite a surprise. Recently he attracted some attention in relation to the sad case of Kaplický´s National Library. Mr. Vodrážka called the building- to- be a green spit and later offered a building site in Stodůlky. That is not a good sign. Someone, who suggests a public library should be placed on the edge of the city, far from the center, accessible only by underground, and on quite a mediocre spot, may not have a very cordial relation to public institutions. It is not only arrogant, it corresponds with the view that libraries, theatres, etc. need not reach out to the public. Everything works- or should work- according to the rules of the market. So if you want a library, take an hour journey.
But one should not forget that every politician, especially at the beginning of his/her career, tries to attract attention. Mr Vodrážka may turn out well, while Mr. Bém we know well enough. So, for the centrists and the right- wing moderates, the convention was a success.

Dec 30, 15:27 (Filed under: News )

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