Christian and Democratic Union – Czechoslovak People's Party
|Christian and Democratic Union – Czechoslovak People's Party|
|Křesťanská a demokratická unie – Československá strana lidová|
|Headquarters||Prague 2, Palác Charitas|
|International affiliation||Centrist Democrat International|
|European affiliation||European People's Party|
|European Parliament group||European People's Party|
|Chamber of Deputies|
|Politics of the Czech Republic
The Christian and Democratic Union – Czechoslovak People's Party (Czech: Křesťanská a demokratická unie – Československá strana lidová, KDU–ČSL, often shortened to lidovci) is a Christian-democratic political party in the Czech Republic. In the June 2006 election, the party won 7.2% of the vote and 13 out of 200 seats; but in the 2010 election, this dropped to 4.4% and they lost all their seats. The party regained its parliamentary standing in the Czech legislative election, 2013, winning 14 seats in the new parliament and thereby becoming the first party ever to return to the parliament after dropping out.
Towards the end of the 19th century Roman Catholics in Bohemia and Moravia joined political movements inside Cisleithanian Austria-Hungary. The Christian-Social Party was set up in September 1894 in Litomyšl, and the Catholic National Party in Moravia was set up in September 1896 in Přerov.
Československá strana lidová (ČSL) was created in January 1919 in Prague, reuniting other Catholic parties, and Jan Šrámek was selected as its chairman. In 1921, ČSL entered the government of Czechoslovakia, and was subsequently part of governing coalitions regardless of political changes.
After the German occupation of Czechoslovakia, Šrámek served as head of Czechoslovak government in exile (in the United Kingdom). After 1945, ČSL was part of the national unity government, forming its most right-wing section. When the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia took over all power in February 1948, many ČSL officials were imprisoned. The party lost any real influence and was kept as a de facto puppet of communists (see National Front). In turn, it was allowed to keep a token presence of ČSL in government until 1989.
After the Velvet Revolution in 1989 ČSL attempted to shed its compromised figures and policies of the past: this included a change of name in 1992 after the merger with the Christian Democratic Union movement (which was a post-revolution attempt at more modern political Catholicism trying to emulate the German CDU, but lacking the strength of its traditional counterpart). KDU-ČSL was part of the governments of Václav Klaus's Civic Democratic Party (ODS) until its ministers left in autumn 1997 which triggered the government's fall; KDU-ČSL was also represented in the caretaker government of Josef Tošovský before the premature elections in 1998.
KDU–ČSL has relatively low but stable support of voters (6–10%); it is strongest in the traditionally Catholic rural areas in Moravia. Historically, it is a mass party with about 50,000 members (second after the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia); most of them are of old age, however, and recruitment of new members can't keep the membership numbers from declining. The influence of the party is rather bigger than that, as it tries – so far rather successfully – to take advantage of the fragmented Czech political situation and make itself a necessary part of any coalition, whether the winning big party be left- or right-wing.
In June 2002 KDU–ČSL went into the elections on a joint ballot with the Freedom Union–Democratic Union) (US–DEU) as the "Two-Coalition", which was the last remnant of an unsuccessful attempt to unite them with three smaller parties into the "Four-Coalition" which would provide an alternative to the practices of the "opposition agreement" of ODS and Czech Social Democratic Party (ČSSD). However it turned out that the KDU–ČSL's traditional voters identified much more strongly with their original party than the whole, unlike US–DEU's liberal city ones, and using preferential votes on evenly split ballots caused that KDU–ČSL gained 22 MPs to US–DEU's 9 even though both parties were of roughly equal strength. They entered the government again by forming a coalition with the winning Czech Social Democratic Party.
In 2003 Miroslav Kalousek was elected chairman; unlike his predecessor Cyril Svoboda he represents the right wing of KDU–ČSL favouring cooperation with ODS, which was a source of tension within the coalition. He refused to enter the government both after his election and the government’s reconstruction after PM Vladimír Špidla’s resignation, and finally on 19 February 2005 asked for the resignation of PM Stanislav Gross after his finance scandal broke out. Gross retaliated by threatening to remove KDU–ČSL from his cabinet; a government crisis ensued.
KDU–ČSL is a member of the European People's Party (EPP).
Cyril Svoboda became the party chairman on 30 May 2009. In reaction to his election, his predecessor Miroslav Kalousek led a split from the party to form TOP 09, as he considered Svoboda to be too far on the left wing of the party. In the 2010 Chamber of Deputies election, the party's vote dropped to 4.39%, and they lost every one of their seats to other parties. Svoboda resigned as a consequence of the results. In November Pavel Bělobrádek was elected on his stead.
National Assembly of the Czechoslovak Republic
- 1920 National Assembly: 11.3% – 33 seats
- 1925 National Assembly: 9.7% – 31 seats
- 1929 National Assembly: 8.4% – 25 seats
- 1935 National Assembly: 7.5% – 22 seats
- 1946 National Assembly: 15.6% (20.2%) – 46 seats
Czech National council/Chamber of deputies of the Czech Republic