Political highs and lows
The winners, the losers and the troublemakers of 2012
Posted: January 2, 2013
NEUTRAL: Governing Coalition Although public disillusionment with its weak performance forbears overly optimistic projections, the scandal-ridden coalition government managed to hold its own at the close of 2012, surviving yet another confidence vote while pushing through pivotal - and vastly unpopular - legislation. Stagnating economic growth compelled the center-right leadership to go against its own principles by raising the value-added tax rate, and an unpopular effort to finalize church restitution has led to the bill's imminent implementation in 2013. Both the tax hike and the church restitution bill narrowly passed through Parliament in spite of a defiant opposition, portending more political wrangling in the months to come.
UP: Communist Party (KSČM)
After a record election success in the regions, the long-stigmatized far left is seeing a return of voter confidence for the first time since 1989. Bolstered by support from voters concerned with unemployment and loss of social security, the KSČM will be a political player to watch in 2013, not only in regional bastions like Ústí nad Labem but also in the race for the Castle, in which the party's candidate choice may determine the outcome of the presidential election.
UP: Miloš Zeman
Five years after leaving politics, leftist lawmaker Miloš Zeman is making a bid for the presidency, and the chances appear to be tipping in his favor. Skilled in the science of prognostics, the former prime minister is shoring up his supporters from the ranks of the ČSSD, the party he founded in the early 1990s, and managing his own nascent political grouping, the Party of Civic Rights-Zemanovci. He is neck-and-neck with Jan Fischer, the favored center-right candidate.
DOWN: Social Democratic Party (ČSSD)
2012 saw a rise in leftist sentiments, but the country's main socialist party has been unable to harness this newfound potential into a strong political advantage. Fragmentation and infighting among party leadership have left it in a weak position at the onset of 2013. In the presidential race, many of the party's members openly support Miloš Zeman instead of Jiří Diensbier, the party's official candidate.
DOWN: David Rath
Once the ČSSD's most outspoken newsmaker, David Rath's fortune has all but evaporated since the days when his oppositional rhetoric on Parliament floor earned him open-handed face slaps from the ranks of the governing party. Since his scandalous arrest in May on corruption charges, the former Central Bohemian governor has been languishing in prison, where he is likely to remain well into 2013, when his trial begins.
DOWN: Public Affairs Party (VV)
Few government entities have raised so many eyebrows as the disgraced Public Affairs Party, whose never-ending saga of wiretap leaks, blackmail and bribe allegations long made it the problem child of the governing coalition. The April trial and conviction of de facto leader Vít Bárta on corruption charges only escalated the party's imminent downfall, leading to its resignation from the government. The party remains in opposition, led by former investigative reporter Radek John, whose own whimsical efforts to return to journalism while still in office have raised ethical alarms.
NEUTRAL: Karolína Peake
Despite the VV's series of scandals, the party's former Deputy Prime Minister Karolína Peake appeared to emerge from the morass unscathed. After breaking with VV leaders, Peake's spring deal with PM Petr Nečas left her at the helm of a new political grouping, LIDEM, relatively untouched by the plethora of missteps marring the coalition's credibility. The departure of Defense Minister Alexandr Vondra gave Peake the opportunity to helm a strategic ministerial resort. However, Peake's 15 minutes of fame abruptly ended when an angered PM Nečas fired her after only eight days in office, after she had dismissed several key players from top defense posts.
UP: Jan Fischer
The onset of 2013 has former caretaker PM narrowly leading the polls ahead of Miloš Zeman in the presidential race, a nod to his pro-business platform and promises to stymie corruption. Fischer's high-profile campaign is financed largely by serial entrepreneur Tomáš Chrenek, who donated 9 million Kč to get Fischer elected.
DOWN: Far Right
In 2012, rightist extremists failed to garner the mainstream attention they capitalized on in previous years. In ethnically volatile regions such as Šluknov, north Bohemia, where tensions with the local Roma populations had in the past been a source of political opportunism, rightist rhetoric fell short of recreating the kind of atmosphere that led to violent riots there in 2011. The extremist Workers Party of Social Justice (DSSS) also suffered a defeat in the October regional elections, failing to win assembly seats in the Ústí nad Labem region it considers its power base.
Markéta Hulpachová can be reached at
- Certainly the Obama/ Clinton administration has gone a long way to restoring ...
- Maybe if UK M.E.P'S took more interest in shaping Europe, then the dillema facing ...
- Politicians are lowlives by existence. ...