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New Christian Democrat generation on the rise

19.10.2017


The Christian Democrats (KDU-ČSL) have featured in many Czech governments since 1990 and have a lot of institutional insight and experience to offer when it comes to actual governance. Party leaders Pavel Bělobrádek and Marian Jurečka, securing top ballot spots in the Hradec Králové and Olomouc regions respectively, represent the younger generation of Christian Democratic politicians. The party had been loudly touting itself as the “third force”, behind the ANO movement and the Social Democrats, at the start of its “hot” election campaign, but that pipe dream evaporated when a promising coalition with the Mayors and Independents collapsed just a couple of weeks after it had been launched.

Bělobrádek and Jurečka faced fierce opposition within the party, most notably from the Zlín region’s president Jiří Čunek, and were unable to convince their own party that a coalition with some of the Mayors and Independents’ key figures occupying top ballot spots would yield enough votes to pass the necessary 10% threshold. Consequently, the Christian Democrats made a safe yet undoubtedly damaging decision: as they try to make it on their own, most polls are predicting they will net 6-7% of the vote.

During the campaign, Christian Democrats have kept to tradition by focusing on issues such as family, quality of life and social policy. The current agriculture minister, Marián Jurečka, has also been fighting for equal quality of food. While these topics are central to an economy on the rise, the Christian Democrats have not been able to attract larger voter groups to the fold. This can partly be attributed to the fact that the KDU-ČSL is often thought to be opportunistic because of its opposition to some of the current government’s major acts, such as the Electronic Sales Register, despite being an integral coalition cog. On top of that, some of the Christian Democrat leaders’ clumsy public remarks have effectively alienated centrist voters, young women in particular.

Yet the party does have interesting figures to offer. Ondřej Benešík, chair of the foreign committee and leader in one of the party’s “strongholds”, the Zlín region, and Jan Bartošek, vice-president of the Chamber of Deputies and leader in the South Bohemia region, have proved effective in parliamentary matters. Christian Democrats in Prague will be pinning their hopes on the culture minister Daniel Herman and on Jan Čižínský, the popular mayor of the Prague 7 district and a rising star in the party’s liberal wing. Party whip Jiří Mihola will be under pressure to deliver votes in another traditional stronghold, South Moravia, as will the most prominent Christian Democrat ministers, party chairman Pavel Bělobrádek and Marián Jurečka.


Jan Sádlo

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