Thursday, October 14, 2021

The Communists Are Out

For the first time since becoming an independent country, when the Czech Republic's 200 newly-elected deputies gather for the inaugural session of the new parliament there won't be a single Communist party member there.  Going back to the days of Czechoslovakia then it will be the first time in 76 years.  So no more communists in parliament.  There hasn't been a Communist party member elected to the 81-member Czech Senate since 2018.

Komunistická strana Čech a Moravy, or KSČM, is the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia.  

It is the direct successor of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia, the KSČ, that staged a coup in 1948 and ruled the country for 41 years until the Velvet Revolution in 1989 forced them from power.  The KSČ was founded in May 1921 and was dissolved in April 1992.  Apparently some felt that eventually the newly formed Czech and Slovak Federative Republic, ČSFR, would break up because the the KSČ was succeeded by the KSČM in Czechland and by the Party of the Democratic Left in Slovakia.

The KSČM is one of the last communist parties in the world, other than the Chinese and Cuban communist parties, to retain "communist" in their name.  

The party, with just under 29.000 members, can be best described as "far left wing."  It often tries to appeal to senior citizens who "remember the good old days."  The party wants closer relationships with Russia and China while questioning the county's EU and NATO memberships.  Over the past few years it has been moving closer to the Czech Social Democratic Party, the ČSSD.

Interest in the party has gone down sharply over the past 10-15 years and it has never really resonated with younger voters.  The best they've done in elections was in 2002 when then had 18,5% of the vote and scored 41 seats in parliament.  This week's elections are the party's worst showing with only 3,6% of the vote they lost all 15 seats that they had last year.  You can't get a seat in parliament if you have less than 5%.

There were protests in 2018 because Prime Minister Andrej Babiš relied on the Communists' votes in parliament in order to get a majority which gave the party indirect access to power.  Now, not only are the communists out but Babiš is out as well.

It's kind of poetic that the communists are out of Czech government in 2021 which marks the 100th anniversary of the original party.

Vojtěch Filip who led the party, for the past 16 years, since 2005 immediately resigned after the elections.  The new Communist Party chair is Kateřina Konečná, who's been representing Czechland in the European Parliament, and she's already said that her priority is to build support among young people.

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