Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia
|Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia
Komunistická strana Čech a Moravy
|Preceded by||Communist Party of Czechoslovakia|
|Headquarters||Politických vězňů 9, Prague|
|European affiliation||Party of the European Left (Observer)|
|European Parliament group||European United Left–Nordic Green Left|
|Chamber of Deputies|
|Regional councils |
|Politics of the Czech Republic
|This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
the Czech Republic
The Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia (Czech: Komunistická strana Čech a Moravy, KSČM) is a political party in the Czech Republic. It has a membership of 56,763 (2012) and is a member party of the European United Left - Nordic Green Left bloc in the European Parliament. Along with the Party of Communists of the Republic of Moldova it is one of only two ruling parties in post-communist Central Eastern Europe which has not dropped the communist title from its name, although it changed its party program to suit laws adopted after 1989. For most of the first two decades after the Velvet Revolution, the party was politically isolated and accused of extremism, but recently it has become closer to the ČSSD. After the 2012 regional elections it began governing in coalition with the ČSSD in 10 regions, and plans to form a coalition government with them after the next election. Its youth organisation was banned from 2006 to 2010, and there have been calls from other parties to outlaw the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia.
It was formed in 1989 by the Congress of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia which decided to create a party for the territories of Bohemia and Moravia (including Czech Silesia), the areas that were to become the Czech Republic. The new party's organization was significantly more democratic and decentralized than the previous party, and gave local district branches of the party significant autonomy.
In 1990, the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia, a federation of the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia and the Communist Party of Slovakia, was formed. Later however, the Communist Party of Slovakia changed its name to the Party of the Democratic Left, and the federation broke up in 1992.
During the party's first congress, held in Olomouc in October 1990, the party's then-leader, Jiří Svoboda, attempted to reform the party into a democratic socialist party, proposing a democratic socialist program and changing the party's name to the transitional name "Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia: Party of Democratic Socialism." Svoboda had to balance the criticisms of older conservative communists, who made up a majority of the party's members, with the demands of an increasingly large and moderate bloc of members, led primarily by a group of young KSČM parliamentarians called the Democratic Left, who demanded the immediate social democratization of the party. Delegates approved the new program but rejected the name change.
During 1991 and 1992 factional tensions increased in the party, with the party's conservative anti-revesionist wing increasingly vocal in criticizing Svoboda. There was also an increase in popularity of the anti-revesionist Marxist-Leninist Clubs amongst rank and file party members. On the party's other wing, the Democratic Left became increasingly critical of the slow pace of the reforms, and began demanding a referendum of members to change the party name. In December 1991 the Democratic Left split off and formed the short-lived Party of Democratic Labour. The referendum on changing the name was eventually held in 1992, with 75.94% voting to retain the current name.
The party's second congress, held in Kladno in December 1992, showed the increasing popularity of the party's anti-revesionist wing. It passed resolutions reinterpreting the 1990 program as a "starting point" for the KSČM, rather than a definitive statement of a postcommunist program. Svoboda, who was hospitalized due to an attack by an anti-communist extremist, couldn't attend the congress, but was nevertheless overwhelmingly reelected.
In 1993, Svoboda attempted to expel the members of the For Socialism platform, a group within the party that wanted a restoration of the pre-1989 communist regime. However, with only the lukewarm support of the KSČM's Central Committee, he briefly resigned. He withdrew his resignation after the Central Committee agreed to move the party's next congress forward to June 1993 to resolve the issues of its name and ideology.
At the 1993 congress, held in Prostějov, Svoboda's proposals were overwhelmingly rejected by two-thirds majorities. Svoboda did not seek reelection as chairman, and neocommunist Miroslav Grebeníček was elected chairman. Grebeníček and his supporters were critical of what they termed the "inadequacies" of the pre-1989 regime, but supported the retention of the party's communist character and program. The members of For Socialism platform were also expelled at the congress, with the existence of "platforms" within the party being banned altogether, on the grounds they gave too much influence to minority groups.
After the party's second congress in 1992, several groups split away. A group of postcommunist delegates split off and merged with the Party of Democratic Labour to form the Party of the Democratic Left (SDL). Also, several independent leftwing members which had participated with the KSČM in the 1992 electoral pact called the Left Bloc also left the party to form the Left Bloc Party (SLB). Both groups eventually merged into the Party of Democratic Socialism (PDS), which does some joint work, and co-operates with the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia. Svoboda also left the party and eventually joined the ČSSD in 1997. Several smaller groups also split away.
The expelled members of For Socialism formed the Party of Czechoslovak Communists (later renamed the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia), led by Miroslav Štěpán. The Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia refuses to work with this group.
The party was left on the sidelines for most of the first decade of the Czech Republic's existence. Václav Havel suspected the KSČM was still an unreconstructed Stalinist party, and kept it from having any influence during his presidency. However, the party provided the one-vote margin that elected Havel's successor Václav Klaus as president.
In 2002 parliamentary elections, the party received 18.5% of the vote for the Czech Republic's Chamber of Deputies. This made them the third largest party in Parliament at that time, with 41 deputies.
In 2006 parliamentary elections the party scored 12.8%, coming in third and far behind the Social Democrats and sinking to 26 mandates. The leadership were disappointed at the drop in support compared to the party's 2002 results.
After a long-running battle with the Ministry of the Interior, in 2006 the KSCM's youth section - the Communist Youth Union (KSM) led by Milan Krajča was dissolved, allegedly for endorsing in its program the replacement of private with collective ownership of the means of production. The decision has met with international protests.
In November 2008, the Senate of the Czech Republic asked the Supreme Court to dissolve the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia because of its political program, which the Senate claimed contradicted the Constitution of the Czech Republic. 30 out of the 38 senators who were present at the time agreed this request and expressed the viewpoint that the program of KSČM does not disown violence as a means of attaining power and adopts The Communist Manifesto of Karl Marx.
Programme and political positions
The KSČM still engages in traditional left-wing rhetoric, condemning imperialism and unscrupulous corporate practices. Until 2012, it was largely excluded from governing coalitions.
The party officially takes a firm (but not extreme) left-wing stance, and no longer supports nationalization of industry and mass central planning. In its 2008 "Programme of Renewal", it advocated infrastructure development and guild socialism.
Popular support and electoral results
The KSČM's strongest bases of support are in the industrial mining heartlands of northern Bohemia, particularly in Karlovy Vary and Ústí nad Labem. The party is stronger with older voters than younger voters, with the majority of the membership being over 60. The party is also stronger in small and medium sized towns than in big cities, with Prague consistently being the party's weakest region.
Parliament of the Czech Republic
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- George Machalík (31 March 1990 - 13 October 1990)
- Jiří Svoboda (13 October 1990 - 25 June 1993)
- Miroslav Grebenicek (June 26, 1993 - September 2005)
- Vojtěch Filip (since 1 October 2005)
- Cablegatesearch.net Cable reference id: #05PRAGUE1575
- Bozóki, A & Ishiyama, J (2002) The Communist Successor Parties of Central and Eastern Europe, pp150-153
- "Parties and Elections in Europe, "Czech Republic", The database about parliamentary elections and political parties in Europe, by Wolfram Nordsieck". Parties & Elections. 14 October 2013. Retrieved 14 October 2013.
- Počty přidělených mandátů | volby.cz (Czech)
- Bozóki & Ishiyama, p146
- "Elections: What's on the menu (in English)". Prague Daily Monitor. 25 October 2013. Retrieved 25 October 2013.
- ČSSD to rule along with Communists in 10 of 13 Czech regions | Prague Monitor
- ČSSD-KSČM minority gov't is viable, Sobotka says | Prague Monitor
- Communists denounce ban on far-left youth movement | Radio Prague
- Bozóki & Ishiyama, p147
- Bozóki & Ishiyama, pp145-146
- Bozóki & Ishiyama, pp146-147
- Bozóki & Ishiyama, p157
- Thompson, Wayne C. (2008). The World Today Series: Nordic, Central and Southeastern Europe 2008. Harpers Ferry, West Virginia: Stryker-Post Publications. ISBN 978-1-887985-95-6.
- agitprop.eu - agitprop Resources and Information. This website is for sale![dead link]
- iDNES.cz, ČTK (Česká tisková kancelář). "Komunisté ve světě nás nedají, říká o hrozbě rozpuštění šéf KSČM". iDnes, the online portal of Mladá fronta DNES. Retrieved 8 November 2008.
- Bozóki & Ishiyama, p155
- Bozóki & Ishiyama, p156
- Dan Hough, William E. Paterson and James Sloam (eds.) Learning from the West? Policy Transfer and Programmatic Change in the Communist Successor Parties of East Central Europe. London: Routledge, 2005 (English)
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