>Czech elections: More new old politics
The Communists – like death and taxes – are always with us and will come in with 10-15 per cent, leaving the big question, both for the outcome of the election and for me personally, whether the Christian Democrats – conspicuous by their limited and lacklustre campaign will make it over the 5 per cent hurdle. If they do, as Kevin Deegan-Krause’s simulation shows we will probably get a deadlocked parliament – unless ODS can close the gap with the Social Democrats more convincingly than seems likely – if not then the Social Democrats are numerically well placed to govern as a minority government with the tacit support of the Communists, except that dear of old President Klaus (himself elected as a Head of State in 2003 with the support of Communist deputies) entertain the possibility, leaving Social Democrat leader Jiří Paroubek facing the prospect of negotiating some kind of deal with Civic Democrats (neither side is keen – and a Grand Coalition has been ruled out by ODS) or – if he’s lucky – pulling on board the motley crew of Public Affairs deputies, who will quickly forget that they called him a political dinosaur and promised not to have anything to do with him once they get a whiff of power.
There have been no polls for the past few days due to legal restictions, but my prediction based on the excellent Pozorblog analysis and some guesswork is that Social Democrat – Civic Democrat gap will be a little narrower than predicted, the Communists every so slightly higher, Public Affairs appreciably lower (despite the hype and upward, there are enough doubts about who they are and what they stand for for voters to have doubts and go for the less groovy TOP or the wholly ungroovy ODS). TOP I suspect will come in slightly lower than predicted. And the Christian Democrats? I have bet 10 euros – yes, Brit followers of Czech and Slovak politics , you can bet online on CEE elections – that they will not make it into parliament (odds of about 2-1 although UK bookmakers seem to have stopped taking bets on the Czech elections, although you can have punt on Slovakia) but my instinct is that these great political survivors will use their extensive local scrape enough of their loyal core Catholic electorate to the polls to live to fight another day. And, of course, pundits are always wrong.
So my election guess
Social Democrats 27%
Civic Democrats 23%
Communist 13.5 – 14.0%
Christian Democrats 6%
In terms of Kevin Deegan Krause’s elegant and beautiful coalition predicting diagram (above), I seem to be predicting a centre-right majority (105/200) seats, although my feeling is that it might be more 102-3 seats, as I am guessing that TOP09 and especially VV will do less well than the polls suggest. In pratice, such a four party coalition with a narrow majority and a wounded and fractious ODS would be an unstable and difficult to manage entity, so deadlock whichever which you choose it. Czechs might do better of Messrs. Paroubek and Nečas could discover the virtues of Grand Coalitional politics – perhaps invited Schwarzenberg et al on board – and become the Clegg and Cameron of Czech politics, leaving populism and anti-establishment opposition to the Communists and Věckáři who are very good at it.