Wednesday, 18 July 2018

Zimola: ČSSD may not profit from change of leader anymore

14 June 2017

Ceske Budejovice, South Bohemia, June 13 (CTK) - The replacement of Czech PM Bohuslav Sobotka in the post of Social Democrat (CSSD) leader may not help the party anymore, CSSD South Bohemia regional branch head Jiri Zimola told CTK on Tuesday, four months before the general election.

"When I suggested half a year ago that the posts of prime minister and CSSD chairman be separated, it went unheeded. If this step is taken now, I am not sure if something can be saved. I am afraid that many voters had already left us," Zimola said.

The CSSD broad leadership is likely to discuss the leading position of Sobotka on Wednesday.

Zimola said any change may bring a new impulse, but it would be hard to win over the lost voters again.

Even a triumvirate could not be ruled out, he said, referring to the idea that the party chairman, the prime minister and the election leader would be three different politicians.

Sobotka would keep the post of prime minister, somebody from the CSSD leadership would become the chairman and another person would lead the election campaign.

Zimola said the election leader might be even somebody outside the party. He said Josef Stredula, the leader of the CMKOS umbrella trade union, was mentioned in this respect.

He said Sobotka should leave the post of party leader only if he proposes the step himself.

The Social Democrats have the ambition to beat the ANO movement of Andrej Babis in the elections, but ANO has had a two-digit lead over them for several months. The latest opinion poll even showed that the traditional runner-up CSSD fell to the fourth position with 10 percent of the vote, being narrowly beaten by the opposition Civic Democrats (ODS) and Communists (KSCM).

Sobotka was re-elected CSSD chairman at the party's congress in March, having no rival.

After the 2013 general election, Zimola participated in a failed attempt to remove Sobotka from the post of CSSD leader, which was supported by incumbent President Milos Zeman, former CSSD long-standing leader. The members of the rebel group had to leave the party's leadership.

In April, Zimola had to resign from the post of South Bohemia Region's governor after nine years in office due to his unclear property situation and high bonuses for the management of a public hospital. He pleads innocent in the case.

In May, the CSSD leadership deleted Zimola from the party's list of election candidates in South Bohemia. In protest, several other CSSD politicians from the region withdrew their candidacies.

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