Czech elections run-up: Neck and neck between left and right

The 2-3 June general elections in the Czech Republic may result either in a government without a stable majority or a grand coalition.

Czech voters will cast their ballots in general elections on 2 and 3 June, the first such vote since the country’s joining the EU in May 2004. Opinion polls show a neck and neck race between the ruling Social Democrats (CSSD) and the right-wing opposition Civic Democrats (ODS). A total of five political parties are projected to win seats in the country’s 200-member lower house of parliament.

The CSSD, led by Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek, is looking to win an unprecedented third consecutive four-year term. The track record of CSSD includes 6% economic growth and determined social and welfare reforms. Asked about his priorities if he wins, Paroubek said that “the first step will be to avoid the flat tax, school tuition fees, fees at the doctor, destruction of the labour code.” He said that he was not planning to co-operate with the Communist Party directly and would not invite them into government.

The ODS, which was headed by current President Vaclav Klaus until 2002 and which is now led by Mirek Topolanek, has been campaigning with a tax cut package that includes a 15% flat tax and has been promising to stamp out corruption. The ODS also aims to boost employment and to reform the country’s pension and health care systems. 

In 2009, the Czech Republic will assume the EU’s rotating Presidency. Paroubek said that his priority would be a reform of the Union’s agricultural policy. The ODS, in turn, would press for easing the movement of labour and services within the EU.

 

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