Feature

Czech Republic: Cynicism is the only winner

Czech voters have declared their disgust with the two major parties and the old left-right division in general.

Miroslav KoreckyTyden

“Politics as we know it is over,” said Miroslav Korecky. Czech voters have declared their disgust with the two major parties—the center-left Social Democrats and the center-right Civil Democrats—and the old left-right division in general. In last week’s elections, 40 percent of them opted for populist or radical parties driven by personalities, not platforms. The Social Democrats may have come in first, with a bit over 20 percent of the vote, and the Communists came in third, with 15 percent, “but the left did not win,” since even together those two parties can’t possibly govern. The new Parliament is an unruly collection of seven parties. They include the pro-business Yes party of Slovak-born billionaire Andrej Babis, which took second place, and the Dawn of Direct Democracy, led by Japanese-born Czech Sen. Tomio Okamura, which wants every law put to a popular referendum. Fed up with corruption scandals and recession, Czechs reject all politicians equally. The huge middle finger that sculptor David Cerny sent floating down the river by Prague Castle right before the vote was prescient: The voters have flipped the bird to the entire political class. Unfortunately for them, “this experiment in maverickism may soon lead us right back to the polls.”

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