published: 08.12.2013, 10:23 | updated: 08.12.2013 11:09:18
Prague - Karel Schwarzenberg was re-elected chairman of the Czech conservative TOP 09 by its congress in Prague today, being the only candidate for the top party post.
Schwarzenberg, former foreign minister who will turn 76 next week, has led TOP 09 since its establishment in 2009. His re-election was expected.
Schwarzenberg thanked the delegates for confidence placed in him.
"I hope I won´t fail your expecations. Be aware that you have elected a person who will not spare you in the years to come. We will work in order to save freedom and democracy," Schwarzenberg said.
He said TOP 09 must clearly distinguish itself from ANO and the Dawn of Direct Democracy, two movements which newly entered the Chamber of Deputies in the October elections and which Schwarzenberg described as populist parties.
"If we continue to be what we are, a party without big promises..., a party that works consistently, I´m convinced that our voters will recognise it," Schwarzenberg told the delegates.
He said changes in politics cannot be achieved without permanent work, including on minor tasks.
Although TOP 09 will end in opposition after the October polls, in which it gained 12 percent of the vote and 26 of the 200 lower house seats, it should not feel discouraged, Schwarzenberg said.
"Let´s be calm but let´s work hard. There must be a clear division line between us and irresponsible politics," he said.
The congress of the Czech conservative TOP 09 today re-elected Miroslav Kalousek the party´s first deputy chairman, a post he has held since TOP 09´s establishment in 2009.
Kalousek, 52, former finance minister, faced no rival in the ballot. His re-election was expected, as was the re-election of Karel Schwarzenberg as TOP 09 chairman earlier today.
Schwarzenberg thanked Kalousek for the work he has done so far. He said cooperation between him and Kalousek has been the basis of TOP 09´s success.
Kalousek said the task of TOP 09, previous junior government party which stays in opposition after the October general election, is to rehabilitate the word opposition.
"The word that was in the past years discredited by the opposition agreement on the one hand and by the practice of a destructive negation of all government-made proposals on the other," Kalousek said.
He alluded to the power sharing pact from 1998-2002, under which the then opposition Civic Democrats (ODS) kept afloat a minority cabinet of the archrival Social Democrats (CSSD) in exchange for a portion of power, and to the "zero tolerance" approach the CSSD, while in opposition, took towards the right-wing governments in the past six years.
Kalousek said the task for democratic opposition is to come up with credible criticism and credible alternatives but also to be capable of joining the goverment´s work if it is necessary and good.
Like Schwarzenberg, Kalousek in his speech dissociated himself from the new parties in the Chamber of Deputies, which entered the lower house in the October general election.
"There are politicians in the Chamber of Deputies who have won the public´s support by asserting that they are no politicians. However, I´m asking what power they want to exercise, if not political power in their capacity as politicians in parliamentary democracy," Kalousek said, alluding to a pre-election motto of billionaire Andrej Babis´s ANO movement.
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