Civic Democratic Party (Czech Republic)

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Civic Democratic Party
Občanská demokratická strana
Leader Petr Fiala
Founded 21 April 1991
Headquarters Doudlebská 1699/5, Prague
Youth wing Young Conservatives
Membership  (June 2013) 21,554 [1]
Ideology Conservatism,[2]
Liberal conservatism,[3]
Economic liberalism,[2][3]
Euroscepticism[2]
Political position Centre-right[4]
International affiliation International Democrat Union
European affiliation Alliance of European Conservatives and Reformists
European Parliament group European Conservatives and Reformists
Colours Blue
Chamber of Deputies
15 / 200
Senate
15 / 81
European Parliament
9 / 22
Regional councils
102 / 675
Local councils
5,181 / 62,178
Website
http://www.ods.cz/
Politics of the Czech Republic
Political parties
Elections

The Civic Democratic Party (Czech: Občanská demokratická strana, ODS) is a conservative[5] and liberal-conservative[6] political party in the Czech Republic. It holds 16 seats in the Chamber of Deputies, making it the fifth-largest party. Civic Democratic Party has been in opposition since July 2013.

The ODS is liberal conservative,[7][8][9] supports economic liberalism,[10] and is notably Eurosceptic.[11] It is modelled on the British Conservative Party,[12][13] with whom the Civic Democrats ally through the Alliance of European Conservatives and Reformists and ECR group. Internationally, it is aligned with the International Democratic Union.

The party was founded by Václav Klaus in 1991 as the pro-free market wing of the Civic Forum. The party won the 1992 legislative election, and has remained in government for most of the Czech Republic's independence. Then-leader Mirek Topolánek served as Prime Minister from 2006 to 2009. It is currently led by Petr Nečas, who succeeded Topolánek in 2010. In the 2010 election, the party lost 28 seats, finishing second, but as the largest party right of the centre, it formed a centre-right government with Nečas as Prime Minister. In the 2013 election, the party was marginalized by only securing 16 seats in the Chamber of Deputies. The party then elected new leader Petr Fiala.

History[edit]

Formation[edit]

The party was founded in 1991 as one of two successors to the Civic Forum. The ODS represented followers of Václav Klaus, and was pro-free market, as opposed to the centrist Civic Movement. An agreement was reached to split the party into two at the Civic Forum Assembly on 23 February 1991. This was followed on 21 April by a formal declaration of a new party, and Klaus was elected its first President.[14] The party agreed to continue in coalition in the Czech government with the Civic Movement, but this collapsed in July 1991.

The Civic Democrats, who represented demands for a tighter Czechoslovak federation, began to organise in Slovakia.[15] Ahead of the 1992 election, the ODS ruled out an electoral alliance with the Liberal Democrats, but agreed to an alliance with Václav Benda's Christian Democratic Party (KDS) in order to boost its appeal to conservatives.[15] The ODS won the election, winning 66 seats (and the KDS another ten), and formed a centre-right coalition with the Civic Democratic Alliance (ODA) and the KDU-ČSL, with Klaus as Prime Minister.[16]

Dominant party[edit]

It was the dominant party in two coalition governments in the Czech Republic in 1992–1997, a majority administration (1992–96) and a short-lived minority government (1996–97).

On 2 June 1995, the ODS and KDS signed a merger agreement, which would come into effect on 18 March 1996, ahead of that year's election. However, at the election, whilst the ODS improved to 68 seats, its allies fell, leading to the government receiving only 99 seats: two short of a majority. Klaus continued with a minority government, relying on its acceptance by the Social Democratic Party (ČSSD).

In December 1997, allegations of the party receiving illegal donations and maintaining a secret slush fund caused the ODA and KDU-ČSL to withdraw from the coalition, and the government collapsed. Josef Tošovský was appointed caretaker, pending new elections in June 1998. Despite the scandal, Klaus was re-elected party chairman, and in January 1998, some legislators opposed to Klaus, led by Jan Ruml and Ivan Pilip, left the party in the so-called 'Sarajevo Assassination' and formed the Freedom Union (US).[17]

Opposition[edit]

At the elections, the ODS fell even further, to 63 seats, while the US won 19. Due to the split, the Freedom Union refused to support the ODS, preventing them from getting a majority, the US's executive also refused to support the ČSSD. As a result, on 9 July 1998, the ODS signed the Opposition Agreement, which pledged the party to provide confidence and maintain a ČSSD government under Miloš Zeman.[18] This agreement was then superseded by the more explicit 'Patent of Tolerance' in January 2000.[19]

In the 2002 parliamentary elections, it went from being the largest seat holder to being the second largest party in the Chamber of Deputies with 58 of 200 seats, and for the first time in its history, assumed the role of a true opposition party. Mirek Topolánek took over the party leadership. The current Czech president, Václav Klaus, has been party's honorary president for his first term in the office. In the European Parliament elections in June 2004 and in Senate and regional assembly elections in November 2004 it received over 30% of the votes.

Back in government[edit]

Leader of the Civic Democrats from 2002 until 2010, Mirek Topolánek led the party to an election victory in 2006 and became the party's first Prime Minister since 1997.

In the 2006 elections it was the largest seat holder in the Chamber of Deputies with 81 seats. It formed a government in coalition with the Christian Democrats (KDU-ČSL) and the Green Party (SZ). The party suffered heavy losses in regional and Senate elections in 2008, losing all 12 regional governorships it had previously held.

Ideology[edit]

Main ideologies of the party are: modern European Conservatism, economic liberalism, and Euroscepticism. Party's ideas are very close to those of the British Conservative Party, Swedish Moderate Party, and other European liberal-conservative parties.

The basic principles of the party's program are "low taxes, public finances and future without debts, support for families with children, addressable social system, reducing bureaucracy, better conditions for business, a safe state with the transatlantic links. No tricks and populism."

In July 2006, the Civic Democratic Party signed an agreement with the British Conservative Party to leave the EPP-ED Group and form a new European political party called MER (Movement for European Reform) in 2009. On 22 June 2009, it was announced that ODS would join the newly formed European Conservatives and Reformists, an anti-federalist bloc working for reform rather than abolition of the European Parliament and currently its fourth largest bloc.

Controversy[edit]

Many political scandals in Czech Republic were related to the Civic Democratic Party.

Amnesty of President Klaus[edit]

The Czech president Václav Klaus decided to declare amnesty on January 1, 2013. The act attracted huge public attention, because of its controversial part. President Klaus decided to stop prosecution of criminal acts which took part 8 years ago and more and the court still didn't decide about guilt.

The most problematic part is, that the amnesty stops prosecution for criminal acts punishable up to 10 years in prison. This includes also criminal activities on huge properties, which have been closely related to political parties in Czech Republic in 1990s.

The leader of Civic Democratic Party signed the amnesty bill and is responsible for the act because of being prime minister of Czech Republic at the time.

Pavel Bém and OpenCard Project[edit]

The Civic Democratic Party politician Pavel Bém is well known for his controversial affairs. He has been the Mayor of Prague during 2002 - 2010. The city used to spend a lot of money on controversial projects at the time.

OpenCard was a project to unify public transportation card, municipal library card and others into one system. The problem is that the project cost approximately 4 times more than in other countries—1 billion CZK (equal to $50 million USD).[20] The city was never able to explain why the project was so expensive.

Election results[edit]

Below are charts of the results that the Civic Democratic Party has secured in the Chamber of Deputies, Senate, European Parliament, and regional assemblies at each election.

Chamber of Deputies[edit]

Year Vote % Seats Place Govt?
1992 29.7 66 1st Yes
1996 29.6 Decrease 68 Increase 1st Yes
1998 27.7 Decrease 63 Decrease 2nd Decrease No
2002 24.5 Decrease 58 Decrease 2nd No
2006 35.3 Increase 81 Increase 1st Increase Yes
2010 20.2 Decrease 53 Decrease 2nd Decrease Yes
2013 7.7 Decrease 16 Decrease 5th Decrease No

Senate[edit]

  • 1996 Senate: 29 seats (whole Senate elected, only one third in subsequent elections)
  • 1998 Senate: 9 seats
  • 2000: 8 seat
  • 2002: 9 seats
  • 2004: 19 seats
  • 2006: 14 seats
  • 2008: 3 seats
  • 2010: 8 seats
  • 2012: 4 seats

European Parliament[edit]

Year Vote % Seats Place
2004 30.0 9 1st
2009 31.5 Increase 9 1st

Regional Assemblies[edit]

Year Vote % Seats Places Hejtmans
2000 23.8 185 7x 1st, 3x 2nd, 3x 3rd 8
2004 36.4 Increase 291 Increase 12x 1st, 1x 2nd 12 Increase
2008 23.6 Decrease 180 Decrease 12x 2nd, 1x 3rd 0 Decrease
2012 12.3 Decrease 102 Decrease 1x 1st, 3x 3rd, 7x 4th, 2x 5th 0 Steady

Leaders[edit]

Petr Nečas was the leader of the Civic Democratic Party from 2010 to 2013.

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ https://moje.ods.cz/
  2. ^ a b c "Parties and Elections in Europe, "Czech Republic", The database about parliamentary elections and political parties in Europe, by Wolfram Nordsieck". Parties & Elections. 24 December 2013. Retrieved 24 December 2013. 
  3. ^ a b Nagle, John D.; Mahr, Alison (1999), Democracy and Democratization: Post-Communist Europe in Comparative Perspective, SAGE, p. 188 
  4. ^ Hanley, Seán (2006), "Blue Velvet: The Rise and Decline of the New Czech Right", Centre-Right Parties in Post-Communist East-Central Europe (Routledge): 29 
  5. ^ José Magone (2010). Contemporary European Politics: A Comparative Introduction. Routledge. pp. 456–. ISBN 978-0-203-84639-1. Retrieved 19 July 2013. 
  6. ^ Elisabeth Bakke (2010). "Central and East European party systems since 1989". Central and Southeast European Politics since 1989 (Cambridge University Press). pp. 78, 80. ISBN 978-1-139-48750-4. 
  7. ^ "The Tories' new EU allies". BBC News. 22 June 2009. Retrieved 14 August 2011. 
  8. ^ Richter, Jan (13 April 2010). "Number 3 for Jesus: Czech parties get numbers to run with in May's elections". Radio Prague. 
  9. ^ Traynor, Ian (19 May 2009). "European election: Brussels braces for big protest vote". The Guardian. 
  10. ^ Paul G. Lewis (2000). Political Parties in Post-Communist Eastern Europe. Routledge. pp. 164–. ISBN 978-0-415-20182-7. Retrieved 6 February 2013. 
  11. ^ Hanley, Sean (2002). Party Institutionalisation and Centre-Right Euroscepticism in East Central Europe: the Case of the Civic Democratic Party in the Czech Republic. 
  12. ^ "He's against the Lisbon Treaty and not keen on the euro... meet the new president of the EU". The Daily Mail. 1 January 2009. 
  13. ^ Hanley (2008), p. xi
  14. ^ Hanley (2008), p. 89
  15. ^ a b Hanley (2008), p. 96
  16. ^ Central and South-Eastern Europe 2004 (4 ed.). London: Routledge. 2004. p. 216. ISBN 978-1-85743-186-5. 
  17. ^ Rutland, Peter (1998). The challenge of integration. M. E. Sharpe. p. 84. ISBN 978-0-7656-0359-3. 
  18. ^ Hanley (1998), p. 140
  19. ^ Hanley (1998), p. 143
  20. ^ Brian Kenety (4 April 2012). "Prague may scrap Opencard project". Czech Position. Retrieved 14 August 2011. 

References[edit]

  • Hanley, Sean (2008). The New Right in the New Europe: Czech transformation and right-wing politics, 1989–2006. London: Routledge. ISBN 978-0-415-34135-6. 

External links[edit]