Over the past four years, the ODS has been working hard to improve the brutally damaged reputation of a party whose prime minister almost ended up in jail. The transition to a reliable conservative party has been overseen by a university professor, Petr Fiala. The party does indeed appear to be enjoying a second wind as it slowly scrambles out of the political graveyard. However, Mr Fiala is a long way from restoring the ODS’s glory years when the party was winning the elections. This year, a two-digit result would be considered a success.
In personal politics, the party is increasingly adapting to the growing demand for “decent Czechs”, a popular collocation referring to the stereotype of a white beer drinker driving a Škoda. Prague’s ballot is spearheaded by the MP Jana Černochová, a fighter for the universal right to carry a gun who has attended a demonstration protesting “We don’t want Islam in the Czech Republic”. Václav Klaus junior, son of the ODS founder, is number three on the ballot and will probably make it to the Chamber of Deputies, given the strong electorate base in the capital. Mr Klaus is becoming one of the key faces of the party and is particularly famous for despising the inclusive education introduced by the current government.
Outside of Prague, the South Moravian ballot is led by party chair Fiala, who will face current prime minister Bohuslav Sobotka (ČSSD). The rest of the regional ballots tend to be headed by less visible candidates, perhaps with the exception of Zbyněk Stanjura, the party’s whip in the Chamber of Deputies and a very successful MP (he leads the Moravian-Silesian ballot), and Jan Zahradník, a current MP, who is at the top of the South Bohemian ballot.
This policy probably reflects efforts to rejuvenate the party and give it a facelift. The success of this strategy will determine the future of Petr Fiala as the party’s chair. If Mr Fiala fails to deliver two-digit results, the party may opt for a more radical direction catering to the tastes of decent Czechs.
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