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Magda Hassan
05-29-2010, 12:26 PM
NY Times May 28, 2010
Communists Could Gain in Czech Vote
By DAN BILEFSKY

PRAGUE ? A popular online video here called ?Convince Granny? urges
young Czechs to withhold visits to their grandparents unless the old
folks agree not to vote for leftist parties like the Communists in
Saturday?s elections.

Modeled on the American comic Sarah Silverman?s video ?The Great
Schlep,? which in 2008 appealed to young Jewish voters to persuade their
grandparents to support Barack Obama in the swing state of Florida, the
Czech video is a testament to the Communist Party?s enduring influence here.

The creators of ?Convince Granny? say they conceived the video, which
has had more than 600,000 hits since it was posted on YouTube about a
month ago, as a necessary weapon against the ascent of the
unreconstructed Communist Party, which recent polls indicate could win
up to 15 percent of the vote.

In addition to the jokes about Grandma?s selective memory, the video
implores young viewers not to forget the insidious transgressions of the
former Communist government, from the exile of the country?s leading
intellectuals and artists to the execution of its political enemies.

In an election that is unlikely to yield a majority for either the
leftist Social Democrats or the rightist Civic Democrats, analysts say
the Communist Party could come closer to real power than at any other
time since the Velvet Revolution here overthrew Communism in 1989.

?We hate the Communists,? said Marek Prchal, 35, an advertising
executive who helped create the video. ?The Communists should have been
banned a long time ago.?

Analysts say the Communist Party is benefiting from a regionwide
disappointment over the failure of liberal parties to live up to the
promises of 1989.

?The theme across the region is the politics of disillusionment,? said
Anna Matuskova, a political consultant here. ?In the Czech Republic,
there is a new generation of young people with iPhones who don?t
remember Communism and will vote for them as a protest vote.?

The Communist Party in this country remains the only one surviving in
the former Eastern Bloc and, to its many critics, is a dangerous
anachronism. The Communists still extol Lenin and Marx, and advocate the
redistribution of wealth and the country?s disengagement from NATO,
making the party a potential spoiler for good relations with the rest of
Europe and the United States.

Eager to keep the Communists out of power, the Social Democrats and
Civic Democrats may come together in a grand coalition that could lead
to gridlock, political experts here say. But it is also possible that a
minority Social Democratic government could come to power dependent on
the Communist Party?s tacit support.

Several new political parties could also prove to be decisive in these
elections: the recently created TOP 09, a fiscally conservative party
led by Karel Schwarzenberg, a pipe-smoking prince and former foreign
minister; and Public Matters, which has instituted patrols in Prague
removing drug addicts and homeless people from the street.

The Communists? secret weapon is Katerina Konecna, the youngest member
of the Czech Parliament, who at age 28 says she feels as at home wearing
designer black stiletto heels as she does reading Das Kapital. The
daughter of Communist Party members, Ms. Konecna says that the current
crisis of capitalism has proved a boon to the Communist Party among the
young, who were drawn by its promises of free education and guaranteed jobs.

?People would rather queue up for bananas, than today, when they have to
stand in the unemployment line,? she said.

Yet the limits of the contemporary Communists? appeal were all too
apparent at a rally held Thursday in front of one of the capital?s
largest shopping malls. Jana Kocianova, 18, a would-be Czech Britney
Spears, gyrated and belted out Gloria Gaynor?s ?I Will Survive? in
Czech, as a group of 80-something men swayed to the beat, tapping their
canes on the pavement.

Speaking between sets, Ms. Kocianova commended the Communists? social
egalitarianism, even as she acknowledged that singing for them was
problematic for her. ?It?s not cool to be young and to support the
Communist Party,? she lamented.

But she quickly added, ?I wasn?t alive during Communism, so I don?t
really remember anything.?

Peter Lemkin
05-29-2010, 06:34 PM
I'll let you know when I hear....think it won't be until Sunday Morning for definitive results....reasons are complex for the relative success of the Communists here and the failure of the 'major' parties, who are pretty much universally disliked or voted for while holding one's nose....Havel announced he was going to vote Green, and urged others to....:dito:

Peter Lemkin
05-29-2010, 08:11 PM
The left-wing Social Democrats eked out a slim victory in the Czech Republic's parliamentary election Saturday but center-right parties won more votes overall, creating uncertainty over who will form the next government.

Results reported by the country's election agency indicated that the Social Democrats, led by former Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek, will not be able to govern alone and may not even be able to successfully put together a new coalition.

The Statistics Office said the Social Democrats won 22.1 percent of the vote while their major rival, the conservative Civic Democratic Party, received 20.2 percent.

With more than 99.8 percent of the votes counted, a new conservative party, TOP 09, got 16.7 percent, followed by the Communists with 11.3 percent and another new party, the centrist Public Affairs, with 10.9 percent.

Pre-election polls had predicted a much wider margin of victory about 30 percent for the Social Democrats, prompting Paroubek to resign as party chairman later Saturday.

"We expected a better result," Paroubek said. "This country is on the way toward a right-wing coalition."