Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.

***Czech Mate

by Norwegian Chef Mon Aug 14th, 2006 at 03:49:39 AM EST

Like two lone kings on a chess board, each trying desperately to win, the two main Czech political leaders, Mirek Topolanek, the leader of the Civic Democrats (ODS) and Jiri Paroubek,  Prime Minister and leader the Social Democrats (CSSD), have each tried a myriad of ways to check mate the other and to form a new Government.  However, with the result of the June 2-3 election giving the two coalitions each 100 seats in the 200 seat house, both leaders have simply been endlessly running around the chess board unable to do anything more than dance around each other.

From the front page ~ whataboutbob

Now the endless battle may move off the chess board to the archery field as the two leaders are suggesting an archery shoot-off. Prague Monitor Article

While this is likey a good joke, one has to start asking how long the Czechs can endure this virtually leaderless state situation before something has to give.

Each day the papers are filled with stories saying that President Klaus will ask either leader to form government.  Meanwhile there are endless contortions and convolutions by the 3 minor coalition partners, the Greens and Christian Democrats who are linked with the Right of Centre ODS and the Communists who are linked to the Left of Centre CSSD.

President Klaus, former ODS Prime Minister, is using this to his full advantage to try to prop up his own lagging popularity.  The Greens who one would think would be Left of Centre are here fairly Right of Centre having recently purged their ranks of lefties in an intraparty split before the June elections.  Although the Greens are rumored to be considering a bolt to the CSSD, they have not done so yet.

One would think, out of national interest, that a new election would be called by this time, but the protracted struggle seems to be in too many people's interest including the President for that to happen.

Now the issue of the Czech Republic's involvement in the US anti-missile plan is flaring up and further dividing the two sides.  Although it would be interesting  to see how the Greens could be in a Government that supports a US Anti-Missile Base on Czech soil.  But the World is a crazy place these days.

So on it goes, and the Czechs are entering their 3rd month with no effective government.  

No effective government? They ought to learn from Sweden. In a similar situation in Sweden, in 1974-76, the two "blocks" (socialists and non-socialists) in Swedish politics each had 150 seats each in parliament. To resolve the resulting deadlock many votes were decided by lottery.

After this infamous period in Swedish parliamentary history the number of seats in parliament were augmented by 1.

by high5 (high5104@gmail.com) on Fri Aug 11th, 2006 at 03:20:54 AM EST
The Swedish solution is very sensible. All legislatures should have odd numbers of members to avoid the possibility of tied election results.
by Gary J on Fri Aug 11th, 2006 at 06:49:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The problem is that the House doesn't function at all, as they can't even agree on electing the speaker of the house.
by jv (euro@junkie.cz) on Fri Aug 11th, 2006 at 07:26:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Has the constituent session of the Chamber of Deputies been called?

Nothing is 'mere'. — Richard P. Feynman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Aug 11th, 2006 at 07:38:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, on June 27
by jv (euro@junkie.cz) on Fri Aug 11th, 2006 at 07:45:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And? Rules of Procedure of the Chamber of Deputies
Part four
Constituent session of the chamber of deputies


§25 The Chamber of Deputies shall elect its Chairperson.

Who was the acting Chairman? [Presumably the Chairman of the previous session of the Chamner, from CSSD?]

Nothing is 'mere'. — Richard P. Feynman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Aug 11th, 2006 at 07:54:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Lubomír Zaorálek (CSSD) is presiding it (see §22 (3) and (4)).

The constituent session is still ongoing, they just try to elect the chairman, fail, recess for a week, repeat.

There's going to be 7th try on 14th August.

by jv (euro@junkie.cz) on Fri Aug 11th, 2006 at 08:12:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You know, they could simply not recess, and the first Deputy that falls asleep loses the vote for their party.

Nothing is 'mere'. — Richard P. Feynman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Aug 11th, 2006 at 08:18:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Just have to nitpick: the two blocks each held 175 seats, not 150.

Otherwise good analogy.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Sun Aug 13th, 2006 at 10:13:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, Paroubek's cabinet is still on as a caretake government. The problem with caretaker governments is that they usually refrain from taking any controversial measures, but if Czechia found itself in a pressing crisis they would have to do what they would have to do. In the meantime, this situation allows Klaus, the figurehead president to act as an executive president, I suppose. Which cannot be a good thing on constitutional grounds or on personal grounds [he's an asshole].

The real problem is not that the executive branch is not functioning, but that the Parliament hasn't convened yet, as they haven't been able to even get a Speaker appointed.

Nothing is 'mere'. — Richard P. Feynman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Aug 11th, 2006 at 04:03:29 AM EST
Chef, thank so much for this! I have had a desperate need for some European news that isn't Lebanon or War on Terror related...and this is very interesting, to boot. Please keep us posted as to what finally evolves with this situation!

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia
by whataboutbob on Fri Aug 11th, 2006 at 04:43:54 AM EST
...o what issues are green center-right?...by the way...what kind of complete green platform is cr? free-market solutions to the environment? Low taxes to improve the life of the big companies so that they can invest more on green policies?

Just wondering....

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Fri Aug 11th, 2006 at 08:09:39 AM EST
What makes you think environmental concerns are necessarily "left". Traditional left ideologies with their emphasis on industry, productivity, and the "labour theory of value" don't seem very "green".

Nothing is 'mere'. — Richard P. Feynman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Aug 11th, 2006 at 08:15:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, I think this may be at the odd root of why the Greens are in a coalition with the Conservatives (ODS) and Christian Democrats.  The left is pretty hardcore labor/industrial.

You will note even in the US that when the perennial ANWR votes come up in the US Congress, labor union Dems and environmentalists Dems are often on opposite sides.  As are pro-Industrial Rethugs and Moderate Pro-Environmental  Northeastern Rethugs.

However, this is the first time for Greens in Czechia to have a king-maker position, so could be interesting to see what evolves.  If you read their webpage on European Greens website, their policies are pretty traditional Green fare.

Czech Greens

I like the silence of a church, before the service begins better than any preaching. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

by Norwegian Chef (hephaestion@surfbirder.com) on Fri Aug 11th, 2006 at 09:57:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In other words, the Environmental/Industrial axis is orthogonal to the political compass.

Nothing is 'mere'. — Richard P. Feynman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Aug 11th, 2006 at 10:00:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Furthermore, there is a distinct tradition of conservationists who care about local peculiarities, national heritage and quality of living, a conservative-nationalist root of environmentalism. Unfortunately, this has much more roots hereabouts than progressive Greens.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Aug 11th, 2006 at 02:54:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The Greens got into the House for the first time, so their politics is really unknown, especially when there was quite big personal change in the party last year with their new leader Martin Bursík, who seems trying to push the party to the right, however, some green representatives were voicing some discontent with that.

When the 3-coalition (ODS+KDU-CSL+Greens) was still alive, Greens tried to push Mrs Kuchtova (a rep) as a minister (rumoured education) who was previously head of "South-Bohemian Mothers" an activist anti-nuclear group opposing the Temelin nuclear powerplant, which was funded by Austrian goverment.

Either way, we'll see what are they going to do.

by jv (euro@junkie.cz) on Fri Aug 11th, 2006 at 09:10:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Never forget that in the Czech Republic there's a huge elephant in the room: Communist Party, which still didn't clearly apologise for their predecessor party's actions before 1989. This casts a huge shadow over any "left-wing" politics. Such as new parties unwilling to associate with the left-wing.

In particular, Greens' program (58 pages long) is really Green, and as far as I understand this term, left-of-center. When you go to their talking points for the elections (2 pages long document), it's still left-of-center. But when you read their leaflet which was sent to every voter in the Czech Republic, they all of a sudden sound "centrist" and, even more importantly, a "protest vote". They were hugely popular among young voters, which tended to dislike the existing party system, and who would never vote for anyone resembling "communists".

BTW, pre-election clip of the 6th party (SNK-ED, got something like 2.5%) was very clearly geared towards the voters fed up with the existing parties. I guess, after the communist electorate dies out, we would see a more "normal" party structure. Right now, the Greens definitely suffer from split personality.

by Sargon on Sat Aug 12th, 2006 at 11:28:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I have given the Chef and CV some "4s" for bringing this to our attention and informing us about the status of the ongoing Czech situation. Good job folks...I am always feeling we need to hear more about what is going on more in the individual countries all around Europe..so this is real informative. Please keep us posted!!

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia
by whataboutbob on Fri Aug 11th, 2006 at 10:46:14 AM EST
Oops. I mean JV...

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia
by whataboutbob on Fri Aug 11th, 2006 at 10:46:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I can offer a Commonwealth example of a tied election.

In the Dominion of Newfoundland (now the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador) the general election of 1908 gave the Liberal Party and the People's Party 18 seats each.

The Liberal Prime Minister advised another dissolution, as once his party had provided a Speaker they would be in a voting minority in the legislature.

The Governor refused a dissolution. The Prime Minister then resigned.

The People's Party leader formed a government, found he was in exactly the same position as the Liberal leader had been. A dissolution was advised and this time granted.

The lesson is obvious. The Czechs need a new election. If nothing changes in the balance of political forces there is no other way out of the deadlock.

by Gary J on Sat Aug 12th, 2006 at 08:33:18 PM EST
Constitution of the Czech Republic
Article 35

(1) The Chamber of Deputies may be dissolved by the President of the Republic, if
a) the Chamber of Deputies failes to vote confidence in a newly appointed Government the Prime Minister whereof was appointed by the President on the proposal of the Chairman of the Chamber of Deputies,
b) the Chamber of Deputies has not decided on a Government Bill the consideration whereof the Government tied to the question of confidence,
c) the session of the Chamber of Deputies has been recessed for a longer than admissible term,
d) the Chamber of Deputies has not had a quorum for a period longer than three months although its session was not recessed and although during the said period it had been repeatedly convened to meet.
(2) The Chamber of Deputies may not be dissolved three months prior to the end of its electoral term.

What we have here is a strage situation where the Chamber is meeting with full quorum for its constituent session, but can't get a Speaker appointed. That doesn't count. In fact, I don't think it can go into recess, because it can only do so by voting to recess, and the constituent session cannot conduct any other business than the appointment of the Speaker.  Even if it did go into recess, it would take 4 months before it would be dissolved...
Article 34

(1) Both chambers shall be in session permanently. Sessions of the Chamber of Deputies shall be convened by the President of the Republic so that a session opens not later than on the thirtieth day folowing election day; if the President fails to do so, the Chamber of Deputies shall meet on the thirtieth day after election day.
(2) The session of a chamber may be recessed by resolution. The total period for which the session may be recessed may not exceed one hundred and twenty days in a year.
(3) When a session is in recess, the Chairman of the Chamber of Deputies or of the Senate may convene the chamber prior to the set term of recess. He or she shall do so always when so requested by the President of the Republic, the Government or by at least one fifth of the members of the respective chamber.
(4) The session of the Chamber of Deputies shall end on the expiration of its electoral term or by its dissolution.

When they get around to a new election, they also need a constitutional amendment, either giving the Chamber an odd number of Deputies, or allowing for a speedier dissolution in the event of a deadlock.

Nothing is 'mere'. — Richard P. Feynman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Aug 14th, 2006 at 02:33:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]

Go to: [ European Tribune Homepage : Top of page : Top of comments ]