Czech SocDems get new leadership in region to address local coalition with extremists
The new chair of the Czech Social Democratic Party (ČSSD) in the Ústí Region is the Vice-Mayor of Štětí (Litoměřice district), Miroslav Andrt. He is replacing Radek Scherfer of Chomutov, who led the party in the region for the last two years.
Andrt told the Czech News Agency that he wants to unify the regional cell because animosty predominates between many of its local organizations. The new regional leadership also wants to address the situation in Duchcov (Teplice district), where the local ČSSD organization was closed after it formed a local coalition government with the extremist Workers Social Justice Party (DSSS) and the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia (KSČM).
Yesterday 73 of 111 delegates to the regional conference in Teplice voted for Andrt, with 37 voting against. The new chair's priority is to unite the party.
"In many of the precincts there are skirmishes ongoing and animosity between our representatives, so this role will definitely not be easy. I have personally set myself the goal of unifying and uniting us under the auspices of the ČSSD so we can make high-quality preparations for the regional elections," Andrt told the Czech News Agency.
Andrt said he plans to build on his experiences from local politics to achieve that aim. The new leadership of the regional ČSSD organization will focus on the situation in Duchcov right away.
The party wants most of the members who leave the closed ČSSD cell to join its other local organizations. Expulsion from the party evidently awaits only those who signed the local coalition government agreement.
That includes Mayor of Duchcov Zbyněk Šimbera. "Just as the leadership has decided, we have distanced ourselves from extremist parties, but on the other hand I hope we eventually succeed in reviving the local organization there again so that over the course of the next two or three years we succeed in stabilizing the situation such that the ČSSD can defend its position," Andrt said.
The Duchcov cell was ordered closed in December 2014 by the Central Executive Committee of the party after regional-level leadership failed to do so. The former regional chair, Scherfer, said previously that he considered it positive that "discussion" had begun [as a result of the elections] about how to improve the situation in socially excluded localities.
"I acknowledge that... from the beginning we declared that our aim was to set these questions in motion within the party so a discussion would start about them. This is not just about the Duchcov district, there is a similar problem around Chomutov, Most, Teplice and Šluknov," he said.
Delegates to the regional conference unanimously supported the chair of the party, Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka, who will defend his position as party chair at the March congress. Milan Chovanec and Jeroným Tejc have been nominated for the position of First Vice-Chair.
Czech Labor and Social Affairs Minister Michaela Marksová Tominová, Lenka Teska Arnoštová, Lubomír Zaorálek, Martin Starec and Czech MP Jaroslav Foldyna of Děčín have been nominated for other vice-chair positions. Czech Human Rights Minister Jiří Dienstbier has not been nominated to the leadership.
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