So the leftist Social Democratic Party in the Czech Republic (socialist democrats…that’s a nice oxymoron, at least to those of us in the West that cannot see a way for those two idealogies to exist together) made some strong gains during elections over the weekend. The elesction were for the State Senate (by that I mean federal) as well as regional representatives.
The SPD won all 13 contested regional representative seats. The Senate seats are too close to call, and will face a run-off election later this week. This is the first major defeat Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek, head of the Civic Democratic Party, has faced since he took the post in 2002. Six years is a pretty good record, I think.
The reason for the defeat: The missile defense shield the U.S wants to place in Czech Republic and Poland. The SDP claims that the Czech people want change, and that they do not want to place a missile shield in the country due to some concerns over how the Rusians will take it. Of course, the Czechs have no love for the Russians, but I think that they might be afraid of aggrevating their former occupiers, especially in light of the Russia Georgia war that happened in August.
The victory in the regions, and the possible victories in the Senate by the SDP could cause major problems for the Prime minister as his three party coaltion government faces a vote of no confidence on Wednesday. The SDP hopes that their success over the weekend will result in a large portion of votes to be for the no confidence measure.
How is all of this affecting me? Well, to tell the truth it really isn’t. This is the first I’ve heard about any of this, and I live here and have been hanging out with some Czech folks. It could be that they have not mentioned it because they are unaware of it, or that they don’t like talking politics (I don’t think that is it though), or that they don’t want to discuss their nation’s politics with a foreigner (I find this to be much more likely than the other two possibilities). Does it concern me? Not really. The Czech Republic seems to be a pretty stable country to me, and I don’t think the rise of the SDP will do much to change that.
I do worry for the Czech visitors to the US who thought they were not going to need visas to visit the US. As I wrote about on this blog before, there is an agreement brewing between the US and Czech Republic to allow Czech citizens visitation rights without the need for visas. One of the big conditions concerning this agreement was the missile shield. Now with that being threatened, I wonder how long it will be before the US returns to its old policy of requiring Czechs to have visas in order to visit. Relations between the two countries, which were looking up and positive, could become strained by these new developments.