Tuesday, 25 September 2018

LN: Next Czech government is sure to be socialist

9 October 2017

Prague, Oct 7 (CTK) - The Czech Republic will have a socialist government after the election even if the Social Democrats (CSSD) end up in opposition because nearly all relevant parties have socialist programmes, political scientist Pavel Saradin writes in daily Lidove noviny (LN) on Saturday.

The promises that the CSSD traditionally makes are also offered by the ANO movement of billionaire Andrej Babis, the right-wing Civic Democrats (ODS) and the centrist Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL), he writes.

In fact, only the conservative TOP 09 and the extremist Freedom and Direct Democracy (SPD) of Tomio Okamura are not social democratic, Saradin writes.

The right-wing polarity has been gradually weakening in Czech politics since 2010. Politics has been loosing contents: many voters are happy enough if the candidates fight corruption, Islam or traditional parties. Few parties are firmly ideologically anchored, unfortunately, Saradin writes.

Earlier this week, a debate on education was held and one of the topics mentioned was tuition at universities. Five years ago, the right-wingers and left-wingers were divided on the issue, but now all except TOP 09 supported the side of the CSSD.

In 2010, Vaclav Klaus Junior (ODS) said university students should pay tuition as a rule. In 2015, he said tuition fees should be introduced along with a reasonable system of student loans. Now Klaus says tuition is not part of the ODS programme, Saradin writes.

Five years ago still, then ODS leader Petr Necas promised to introduce tuition at public universities as soon as possible and the ODS current chairman Petr Fiala agreed with him, Saradin said.

Mayors and Independents (STAN) leader Petr Gazdik also promoted tuition fees, but this has changed.

Rector and current regional govenor Ivo Vondrak was also a supporter of tuition, saying it "seems to be the only way to improve the worsening financing of the public universities," but when he joined ANO he changed his mind completely, Saradin writes.

He says the liberal Pirates and the Christian Democrats are against tuition as well.

All mainstream parties promise to raise salaries of teachers and employees in the public sector in general and nobody is calling for the reintroduction of cash fees in health care, Saradin writes.

TOP 09 at least wants young people to have free entry to state galleries, museums and heritage sites, he says.

Czech society is considered egalitarian. When economic reforms were being prepared in the early 1990s, a strong social pillow was always part of them. One of the first laws passed in 1991 was the law on collective bargaining, which aimed at the establishment of social consensus, Saradin writes.

The Czech version of the left-wing political struggle was always a dispute over how much of the socialist programme should be pushed through - maybe apart from the 2006 elections when there was a strong left and an authentic right, he says.

Real economic and political liberalism has never been promoted by anybody in the Czech Republic, Saradin writes.

The present dispute about the growing price of butter shortly before the general election is the saddest example of the emptiness of Czech politics. It is absurd to make butter a serious issue in the election campaign, Saradin says.

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