Edward Lucas, Eastern Approaches
Austerity and reform are the result of what David Král of EUROPEUM in Prague calls "The Great Political Earthquake" of the Czech elections this weekend.
The outcome gives clearly a green light to the pro-reform agenda and indicates that Czechs at times of crisis can support tough solutions. This particularly applies to the unexpectedly high support for TOP09 who practically promised nothing but austerity measures and handled the “Greek scenario” card very skilfully. It likewise delivered a strong message to the two strongest parties – ODS and CSSD – that the voters are discontent with their work over the past few years. Both parties need to learn their lessons. The Social Democrats badly need to modernise the party and its image, revert from recent populist style of rhetoric, make it relevant to a broader range of middle-income voters, and especially to younger people. The big question remains over the future co-habitation of ODS and TOP09. The programmes of those two parties are strikingly similar, and the only distinguishable feature is TOP09’s clearly pro-European stance. Unless ODS quickly sorts out its internal schizophrenia and brings to the forefront new faces, uncompromised by the party’s politics till now, it might well happen that TOP09 will oust ODS and degrade it to the position of ever more Eurosceptic and nationalistic right wing conservative party.
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Earthquake in Bohemia