>Czech Republic: No fright on the right?
If you take away the opposition-bashing hyperbole, there’s probably even an element of truth in this self-image and it is interesting to see how Topolánek et al have been quietly reinterpreting the role of history of their party and especially the role of Václav Klaus to reinforce this. Essentially, in the (early) 1990s – we are told – Klaus was pragmatic fixer who got things done, then at some unspecified point (but certainly by 2002) turned into an ideological monster and parted company with both ODS and his earlier self. Minister Jekyll and President Hyde, as it were. Hmmm…
Nevertheless, saying that you’re a hardworking moderate team of incumbents interested in the practical business of government has not always been the a winning formula in Czech politics. Anyone with a long enough memory may remember that in 1992 the ex-dissidents of the middle of the road Civic Movement (OH) tried precisely this tack – billboards of rowing boats and appeals to voters to all pull together, as I recall – and were, of course, duly slaughted in the elections by VK and the rising Civic Democratic Party.
Of course, today’s ODS is a far tougher, more formidable and professional outfit than OH whose disdain for party politics was probably their undoing, but parallel was not lost on Klaus himself, who hurled this as a term of abuse at Topolánek’s ODS for its alleged loss of right-wing ideological commitment and embrace of various figures associated with his predecessor Václav Havel and (rather more tenuously) the original OH.