Freedom Union conference survives rebellion

08-12-2003

The smallest party of the Czech coalition government -the right wing Freedom Union-DEU survived a minor earthquake at its party conference over the weekend. After failing to push through his proposal to elect new party leadership, the leader of the small right wing platform DEU Ratibor Majzlik stormed out of the party conference announcing the end of this political alliance.

Freedom Union conference, Ratibor Majzlik, photo: CTKFreedom Union conference, Ratibor Majzlik, photo: CTK It was a dramatic moment and correspondents were poised to report on the disintegration of the smallest governing party. However the planned rebellion failed and Mr. Majzlik stalked out with only three of his close associates. 200 DEU delegates remained seated, wordlessly confirming their allegiance to the governing party. Freedom Union deputy group chairman Karel Kuhnl was furious when he took the stand moments later: Let Mr. Majzlik go where he will, he thundered, the rest of you are welcome to stay.

The reason why Mr. Majzlik insisted on electing a new party leadership was - as he claimed - because the 200 member platform DEU no longer wanted to remain in government with the Social Democrats. However 48 hours after the incident only six DEU members have left the party. The rest remain and some political commentators claim that if anything Mr. Majzlik's departure will make the Freedom Union-DEU more stable. The incident has not in any way affected the standing of the governing coalition in Parliament and Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla appeared unperturbed by these developments, when he made a brief appearance at the Freedom Union's party conference.

Freedom Union conference, Petr Mares, photo: CTKFreedom Union conference, Petr Mares, photo: CTK "I really do not think that this incident could endanger the stability of the government. I feel that after fulfilling the first phase of the public finance reform the government is very stable indeed."

Commentators point out that the Freedom Union has a much more serious adversary than Mr. Majzlik - the party's low rate of public support. With a two to three percent support rating, the party does not stand much chance of influencing politics in the future. It will need to do much better - and it will not need to wait long to prove itself - next year will bring communal elections, elections to the Senate and elections to the European Parliament.

08-12-2003