>Czech politics: Christian Democrats to consider coalition with Social Democrats despite Communist backing

>Sensational political news from Prague – not a phrase you are likely to see in print very often –reported in LN’s online edition. After the collapse of talks between the Civic Democrats (ODS) and the Social Democrats (ČSSD) over the possible toleration of a minority caretaker ODS government by ČSSD – the outcome we were all expecting – after June’s deadlocked election we now have an astonishing volte face by the Christian Democrats, which once again throws everything up in the air.

Having at first signed up for a (now officially defunct) minority coalition government with ODS and the Greens, the Christian Democrats now say they may consider entering a minority Social Democrat-led government supported from outside by the hardline Czech Communists, a complete reversal of the party’s established stance of not co-operating (even indirectly) with KSČM in government. The price of their support? A more proportional form of PR in electoral system to keep a small niche party like them in business.

If a Social Democrat-Christian Democrat government tolerated or supported by the Communists takes office outgoing (and incoming?) Social Democrat PM Jiří Paroubek will have pulled off an amazing political feat in bulldozing the seeming triumphant ODS aside. There would also be some far reaching consequences. It would, I think, mean the end of ODS leader Miroslav Topolánek – seemingly distracted by personal problems – and considerable bloodletting on the ‘civic’ (liberal, pro-market) right, which will be faced by a bloc of pro-social market historic parties with only the Greens for company. The move seems to be political suicide for the Christian Democrats – it could conceivably split the party and alienate parts of its core Catholic constituency to such an extent that no amount of electoral jiggery pokery could save them.

There is, however, one obstacle. Assuming that PM designate Topolánek fails to form a government President Klaus still has one more opportunity to nominate a PM before the third (and final) chance goes to the Speaker of the lower house (currently a Social Democrat) who would nominate Paroubek. Or will Klaus prove as pragmatic as Christian Democrat leader Miroslav Kalousek and throw his own party (but perhaps its MPs support for his re-election as President?) overboard? Watch this space.

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