Czech Christian Democrats head pulling party under water-press
The Czech junior governing Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL) seem not to mind that their chairman Jiri Cunek had to leave the cabinet over suspected corruption and dubious finances, but Cunek is pulling the party under the water, Petr Uhl writes in the daily Pravo today.
Five days have elapsed since the KDU-CSL national conference that accepted Cunek's explanation of the origin of millions of crowns which he deposited in banks in 1998 and of which he said that this was his money and then it was not his.
(It surfaced recently that Cunek was drawing social benefits at the same period when he deposited millions in his accounts. He subsequently resigned from his government posts.)
However, most of the delegates present at the KDU-CSL national conference - 56 percent - voted confidence in Cunek while another 20 percent abstained from the vote and others did not even attend the leadership meeting at such a serious moment.
This means that only 60 percent of the members of the national conference took part in the vote.
Cunek has thus left the government but he remained KDU-CSL head and it seems that influential party members do not mind it, Uhl said.
"The main thing is that Cunek's explanation is credible, or at least seems credible," a member of the national conference told the paper on condition of anonymity.
It is a great pity that the KDU-CSL lost its chance on Tuesday to again become Lux's "quiet force," Uhl writes referring to KDU-CSL late chairman Josef Lux (1956-99) who came with the "quiet force" mark for the party in the 1996 election campaign, and to the high reputation the party enjoyed under Lux.
For five days, the Christian Democrats have been keeping silent while Cunek himself tried on Sunday to explain the origin of his "millions" to the TV viewers. But he failed to convince them since two-thirds of voting viewers said they did not believe him, Uhl says.
And the KDU-CSL leaders hoped that people would like Cunek's resolute stance. The main thing for them was what impression Cunek makes!
The current deadlock situation in which Cunek is not a member of the government but can considerably influence its composition and orientation as KDU-CSL chairman contributes to the stability of neither the KDU-CSL nor the government, Uhl says.
Opponents of the government of Mirek Topolanek (senior governing Civic Democrats, ODS) who wish its end are rejoicing. They are looking forward to the KDU-CSL sinking into oblivion and the idea of the two-party system or the grand coalition of the ODS and the senior opposition Social Democrats (CSSD) has re-appeared.
"I also wish this government to fall as soon as possible, but I cannot rejoice over the quick fall of the Christian Democrats," Uhl says.
The Christian Democrats do not only belong to the Czech parliament but they are also a necessary part of the European and Czech political culture, he says.
Ten years ago, the chairman of the xenophobic Republicans tried to save his popularity through his television appearances. Last year, Cunek, like Republicans' head Miroslav Sladek, also drew public support from his anti-Gypsyism, the term used in the United Nations and the EU.
However, with Cunek at the helm the party will hardly be able to preserve its influence in society. It has become clear that it is not Cunek's anti-Gypsyism, but his whole personality that is an obstacle preventing the KDU-CSL's political success among Czech citizens.
Cunek is pulling the party to the bottom, Uhl concludes.
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