Another student guest post on party systems, this one on the Czech Republic.
So, as an Eastern European country that has previous experience with a functional democracy, what does the Czech party system look like? Well, in their lower house, the Chamber of Deputies (Poslanecka Snemovna) there is a total of 200 seats elected using a system of proportional representation. As a result, 12.2% of these seats belong to smaller parties, with five parties holding the great majority of all seats:
The Czech Social Democratic Party (CSSD) received the most votes in the 2010 elections grabbing fifty-six seats (22.1%) in the Chamber of Deputies. The CSSD is a social democratic party that supports “socially responsible development” of the country, according to their website. They would be classified into the Social Democratic party family, as alluded to in the name. As a party they aim to create a welfare state that accepts the idea of a market economy, but rejects the societal outcomes that accompany market economies. Their party ideology is grounded in the idea that the well being of a society should trump that of an individual, which is illustrated by their efforts to create an equitable tax system, social welfare programs and a universal health care system.
The CSSD’s main party opponent is the Civic Democratic Party (ODS) who received fifty-three seats (20.2%) in the Chamber of Deputies. Their name may say Democratic, which could confuse some into thinking they are a liberal party, however they are a proponent of conservatism. They believe very strongly in personal freedoms and individual responsibility. They say their party “draws inspiration from the British Conservative Party and the U.S. Republican Party.” They promote the spirit of entrepreneurship, a market economy, private ownership and try to avoid social welfare systems because they are not incredibly cost effective (you can see where CSSD and ODS might start to disagree…).
The newest party in the system is the Tradition Responsibility Party (TOP 09), and they received forty-one seats (16.7%) in the Chamber of Deputies. They ascribe to liberal conservative values, and, on their website, lay out three main party objectives:
- Maintain and deepen rule of law and democracy.
- Pursue responsible policies with sound public finances.
- Build a stable economy based on free market and non-discrimination.
They reject disrespect for basic human rights or equality and all ideologies that have totalitarianism as an end result. They promote the free market and aim to implement the appropriate institutions for oversight.
For those of you who thought that Communists were a thing of the past, this one may come as a surprise to you. The forth party of the majority is the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia (KSCM). They are the only party that was a former ruler in communist Eastern Europe. They advocate for state ownership of some of the key sectors of the economy. They are also interested in the development of a modern agriculture program. They belong to the communist party family and won twenty-six seats (11.3%) in the Chamber of Deputies during the last election.
The final party of the majority is Public Affairs (VV) which received twenty-four seats (10.9%) in the Chamber of Deputies in 2010. Their party family would be classified as into conservative liberalism. They are firm believers in direct democracy and believe individuals have the right to influence policy and address the issues that face the country. They say they align with the right center, however little more information could be found in English.
Arranging the Czech party system roughly from left to right you get:
To summarize, it seems as though Prague has followed the Western European trend toward establishing a welfare state, as illustrated by their Social Democratic party raking in the greatest number of seats, even if the 2010 election saw a shift towards the center-right.
Civic Democratic Party. 2012. Retrieved from http://web.ods.cz/en/party.
Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia. 2012. Retrieved from http://www.kscm.cz/our-party.
Czech Republic. 2011. Retrieved from the European Election Database at http://www.nsd.uib.no/european_election_database/country/czech_republic/parties.html.
Czech Republic. 2011. Retrieved from the IPU Parline database at http://ipu.org/parline-e/reports/2083.htm
Czech Social Democratic Party. 2012. Retrieved from http://www.cssd.cz/en/platform/cssd-values/.
Public Affairs Party. 2012. Retrieved from http://www.veciverejne.cz/o-nas.html.
Tradition Responsibility Prosperity. 2012. Retrieved from http://en.top09.cz/about-us/general-outline/.