Revived Christian Democrats want regional recovery
But 2014’s local elections gave KDU-ČSL the greatest success of the traditional parties. The party also gained extra seats in the Senate, where they now comprise the third largest group. They have also managed to rid themselves of debt.
In late May, at the KDU-ČSL party congress in Zlín, incumbent chairman Pavel Bělobrádek was convincingly re-elected with 91 percent of the vote. In the future, said Bělobrádek, the party plans to seek out right-of-centre voters: “In next year’s local elections, we need to break up the red-orange coalitions. It isn’t right for local education to be run by communists,” noted Bělobrádek, referring to the nine Social Democrat-Communist local governing coalitions nationwide. Congress delegates also assessed the fruits of the party’s membership, as the most junior partner, in the current Social Democrat-ANO-KDU-ČSL governing coalition. Defending the arrangement, Bělobrádek argued his party had succeeded in placing 80 percent of its top priorities in the official government policy programme.
“Of this, half has already been enacted. We aren’t playing for effect, but to score goals,” he added. One stated success is an increase in tax credits for working families with children. ANO leader Andrej Babiš, unlike PM Bohuslav Sobotka (Social Democrat) or the leaders of the Civic Democrats and TOP 09 (who were all there as guests), was absent from the congress. Consequently, he found himself the target of heavy criticism. “If we accept [Babiš's] premise of running the state like a private company, then we are willingly supporting the destruction of democracy,” warned re-elected KDU-ČSL Deputy Chairman Jan Bartošek.