Political parties ponder plethora of possible post-election permutations

Keenly anticipated general elections are being held in the Czech Republic at the end of the next week. Opinion polls suggest the Social Democrats should come first, though what would happen next remains extremely unclear. The leader of their main rivals the Civic Democrats has just poured cold water on the idea of a “grand coalition”, though there are a plethora of other possible post-election permutations.

In nine days’ time, Czechs will begin casting their ballots in general elections. Opinion polls have consistently put the Social Democrats in front. But if Jiří Paroubek’s party do indeed come first, they are unlikely to receive much more than 30 percent of the vote, meaning they would not be able to govern by themselves.

Jiří Paroubek, photo: CTKJiří Paroubek, photo: CTK This leads to speculation about the make-up of the government that will emerge from post-election negotiations. For his part, Mr Paroubek says the Social Democrats could form a coalition with small centrist parties. Of those, he would prefer to get into bed with the Christian Democrats. However, polls indicate they may not make it back into the lower house. And new groupings TOP 09 and Public Affairs would likely shy away from Mr Paroubek’s embrace.

Some polls have suggested that the Social Democrats and the Communists could between them win 101 or more seats in the 200-seat lower house. If that happens the Social Democrats may seek to form a minority government supported by the Communists. A party pledge rules out an actual coalition with the Communists, who have never been part of any government since 1989. Nevertheless, a minority cabinet with Communist backing would still represent a marked shift in Czech politics.

However, if a triumphant Jiří Paroubek is unable to form a cabinet, that task may be entrusted to Petr Nečas of the Civic Democrats, assuming his party finish a close second. Seats for the endangered Christian Democrats could also play into this scenario.

Petr NečasPetr Nečas But if the elections result in stalemate, one possible outcome could be what has been dubbed a “grand coalition” of the Social and Civic Democrats. Mr Nečas seems shy of that option. Wednesday’s Lidové noviny quotes him as saying he would prefer to see his party’s rivals ruling with the Communists, if that is possible. In any case, the weeks or perhaps months after next week’s elections could well be interesting to say the least.