A coalition pact between the Christian Democrats and Mayors and Independents parties was declared dead last week and this Tuesday spelled the end of an alternative proposal. In an effort to continue cooperation, the Christian Democrats offered that STAN candidates run on their ballot in the autumn election. But on Tuesday, the smaller party voted to go it alone.
It was a clear decision by the party membership of the Mayors and Independents – or STAN – party after a three hour internal meeting. Instead of fielding candidates under the banner of the Christian Democratic Party in the upcoming parliamentary elections in the autumn, STAN opted to run on its own. The party, which promotes locally-oriented government, currently only has a handful of MPs in the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate. It previously ran via a joint ticket arrangement with the TOP 09 party.
STAN also declared on Tuesday that it would support the candidacy of academic Jiří Drahoš in next year’s presidential elections. According to STAN chair Petr Gazdík, his party is unwilling to “change its identity” to accommodate its coalition partner:
“We reject partaking in the usual business of public opinion surveys and so forth, because we could then be accused of bartering with the votes of the electorate...Neither our members nor our mayors or other regional supporting groups are prepared to support a purely Christian Democrat slate. Because then we would become Christian Democrat MPs, and basically suppress our own identity.”
The cause for the collapse of the short-lived Christian Democrat and STAN coalition was the largely the result of opinion polls which repeatedly suggested the two parties might not meet the minimum 10 percent needed to make it together into the lower house. The parties had hoped the opposite when they teamed up back in April, namely that they would increase their chances of success. Most polls had the coalition trending at around 8.5 percent, which the Christian Democrats decided was too great a risk.
Christian Democrat chair Pavel Bělobrádek, however, signalled a more optimistic note for the future, especially for the Senate, which, unlike the lower chamber, is not elected via a proportional system:
“Next year we have elections to the Senate. We clearly won the last Senate elections and would like to continue to join forces in the Senate with STAN, thus preventing a splintering of the winner-takes-all system in effect there. Such a system means only one winner, and the person in second place is a loser.”
Candidates have until mid-August to formally submit candidate lists for October’s parliamentary elections. Current opinion polls show the ANO party with a clear lead, while the Christian Democrats poll at around seven percent and STAN polls below two percent. The parties, on their own, will need to meet the five percent threshold required to gain seats in the lower house.