Topolanek downplays 'informal' meeting with far-right National Party

11-08-2005

Not long after Civic Democrat leader Mirek Topolanek threatened a "night of the long knives" for the civil service if his party wins the next elections, he now finds himself under the spotlight for holding talks with a small nationalist grouping. On Tuesday Mr Topolanek met Petra Edelmannova, the leader of the marginal right-wing National Party, though he told reporters the talks had no particular goal. But is there a chance the Civic Democrats could in some way link up with the National Party in the future?

That's a question Martin Mikule put to political analyst Vaclav Zak.

"I think that the Czech political situation doesn't give any prospect for the National Party. So I think it's highly improbable that they would get more than one percent in the elections. I think that these are just informal talks and there is nothing more in it."

What kind of party is this National Party? Do you think they are nationalists? Are they extremists?

"You know, there are several seminars at the Czech universities which study right wing parties in the Czech Republic. I attended such a seminar and as I had the possibility to ask these people questions, I saw that these people are a sort of 19th century nationalists. They think they must protect Czech national interests that the Czech Republic should be an island in the world of globalization, that we should take care of ourselves etc...."

Mirek Topolanek, photo: Zdenek ValisMirek Topolanek, photo: Zdenek Valis "I think it's completely marginal party without any influence. The extreme right wing has always been a marginal political stream in Czech society."

But in the first half of the 1990s there was an extreme right wing party - the Republican Party. Later they did not receive enough support from the voters and they disappeared from the Parliament. Do you think that some voters might miss the extreme right nowadays?

"I don't think so. I think that the leader of the party Mr. Sladek was very similar to Mr. Bean and he was amusing people. Many voters told me that they would vote for Sladek because he is funny. So I don't think that they would really represent a right wing party."

"In our country ODS (Civic Democrats) is playing very well the role of the right wing party. They include voters from the center right to far right, they like to talk about national interests as well....So I think they prevent a success of any party that would more right wing."

The Social Democrats seem to have moved more towards the centre now. Do you think that this can push the Civic Democrats to go even further right in the future?

"I don't think so. I think the political scene will remain quite stable. Union of Freedom will disappear in the next elections, so we will have only one liberal-conservative right wing party and we will have two left wing parties. In the near future, we will be curious to see what happens in the relationship between the Social Democrats and the Communist Party."

11-08-2005