published: 03.11.2013, 16:38 | updated: 03.11.2013 16:41:17
Prague - The backing of Jiri Rusnok´s caretaker cabinet by the Czech Social Democrats (CSSD) in the confidence vote in August was a mistake which caused the party´s dual leadership to intensify and voter preferences to plummet, CSSD deputy chairman Milan Chovanec said on Czech Television today.
The CSSD won the elections but it gained only 20.5 percent of the vote in the early election held on October 25-26, which is far less than it hoped for.
In summer, the CSSD´s voter preferences still exceeded 30 percent, according to public opinion polls.
President Milos Zeman appointed the Rusnok cabinet in July against the will of most parties in parliament, including the CSSD. Observers then said the cabinet of unaffiliated experts are in fact friends of Zeman who may help Zeman´s fans in the party prevail over his critics and thus strengthen his influence on the CSSD.
The CSSD first opposed the installation of the Rusnok cabinet but eventually it changed its mind, under the pressure of leaders loyal to Zeman, and decided to support it in the confidence vote.
The cabinet lost the vote in early August and later in the same month the Chamber of Deputies dissolved itself to pave the way to early general elections.
"It was a big political mistake. It was the start of the fall of the CSSD´s voter preferences and the election result," Chovanec said.
He said CSSD chairman Bohuslav Sobotka was against the CSSD supporting the Rusnok cabinet, while his first deputy, Michal Hasek, pushed for the CSSD to vote confidence in it.
Hasek is known as the leader of the CSSD wing standing close to Zeman.
The party´s decision making on whether to back the cabinet in the confidence vote was "a big shootout" between Sobotka and Hasek, Chovanec said.
Most of the CSSD´s rank-and-file supported the leftist Rusnok cabinet in an effort to prevent the right wing´s return to power, he added.
Internal battle between Sobotka´s and Hasek´s wings broke out in the wake of the elections when five party leaders had a secret meeting with Zeman without Sobotka´s knowledge and afterwards they made the CSSD presidium call on Sobotka to resign as party chairman.
Sobotka refused to do so and said only the party´s central executive committee, which is to meet on November 10, has the right to unseat him. The CSSD´s regional organisations have in the meantime supported Sobotka in his conflict with his Hasek-led opponents.
Chovanec today said this dual leadership has lasted in the CSSD for three years now and it even intensified after the Rusnok cabinet´s installation.
According to him, the CSSD would have paid dear for it the Rusnok cabinet had won the confidence vote and ruled until the regular general election in mid-2014.
If so, the 2014 election winner would have been Andrej Babis and his ANO movement, Chovanec said.
The new movement of billionaire Babis ended strong second, after the CSSD, in the early election last weekend. Its popularity rose steeply in the last few weeks before the polls.
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