The political games of Czech conservatives can have far-reaching consequences

The central figure in the conservative wing of the ODS is MP Marek Benda, who plays a vital role in the completely disproportionate influence of the ultraconservatives on Czech politics. Facebook photo by Marek Benda

Czech conservatives, not to mention ultra-conservatives, are a relatively small political movement operating in several parties. But they skillfully use the fact that the current government coalition of five parties is fragile, so they can block steps and personnel proposals they consider too liberal and play various power games. In particular, we are talking about the approval of the Istanbul Treaty on combating violence against women, the law on marriage for same-sex couples, and the nominations of President Petr Pavel to the positions of constitutional judges.

Conservatives have a strong position in the Civic Democratic Party and form the core of the People’s Party. They are also represented in TOP 09 and in the Elders and Independents movement.

Their influence was particularly strengthened by electoral arithmetic, which enabled the People’s Party, who probably would not have entered the House of Representatives on their own, to win twenty-three parliamentary mandates in the last parliamentary elections. The same electoral arithmetic condemned the liberal Pirates, whose public support was and is much stronger than that of the People’s Party, to only four mandates.

Although the People’s Party repeatedly “competes” with TOP 09 in party preference surveys for the position of the weakest party in the government coalition, and for a long time they stayed around only four percent, which would not be enough for them to enter the House of Representatives, they now have a great influence in the government coalition thanks to the fact that The ODS gained weight before the elections in the Spolu coalition. The Pirates, who in the latest polls are third behind ANO and ODS, on the other hand, have minimal influence in the House of Representatives.

The People’s Party and the conservative wing of the ODS effectively keep Prime Minister Fiala in check. They currently have enough power to block all sorts of legislative initiatives and personnel proposals that seem too liberal to them. At the same time, they do not look back too much at the fact that both marriage for all, the Istanbul Treaty and the policies of President Pavel are supported by the majority of society.

Benda next

The central figure in the conservative wing of the ODS is MP Marek Benda. His brother Filip leads Zbyňek Stanjury’s cabinet.

Representatives of ultra-conservative circles also infiltrated the Ministry of Justice. Jan Gregor, vice-chairman of the conservative organization Alliance for the Family, which opposes LGBTQ people and same-sex marriage, is an adviser to Deputy Minister of Justice Antonín Stanislav, according to the media. The Minister of Justice Pavel Blažek himself recently participated in a conference organized under the auspices of Cardinal Duka by the association Patrimonium Sancti Adalberti, at whose past events both people who adhere to ultra-conservative views and supporters of contemporary Russia spoke.

And the conservatives, especially in the figure of Alexander Vondra, have a strong say in European ODS policy as well. They repeatedly either directly defend the policies of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán or criticize the European Union for alleged interference in Hungarian internal affairs. They agree with Orbán not only on his rejection of equal rights for sexual minorities, but also on the strong nationalist undertone of his politics.

The tactical game played by the Czech conservatives started well recently, especially around the ratification of the Istanbul Treaty on combating violence against women. According to them, its ratification would open the way to liberal views on the identity of sexual minorities. However, since a significant part of the government coalition wants to approve the treaty, and President Pavel also supports its ratification, he is trying to at least delay the process of its approval.

A few days ago, Minister Blažek announced that since the treaty had not yet been discussed in the Czech parliament, the government had authorized its representative to abstain from voting at the European Union meeting on the approval of the treaty by the Union. It is said that the approval of the treaty at the European level is particularly urged by liberal Sweden, which is now the EU’s chairman. Meanwhile, the European Parliament has already supported the treaty and called on the Union to ratify it.

It is likely that Czech conservatives will claim during the domestic negotiation of the treaty that the EU is exerting undue pressure on us, and thus will try to get a few more votes for the opposition camp. Or he will claim that in the light of its ratification at the European level, we have no choice but to finally approve it.

The conservatives also chose a delaying tactic in the case of the marriage for all law. Since they cannot be sure that it would not pass in a “free” vote, they are trying to delay its discussion. The People’s Party even came up with a counterattack in the form of a proposal for an absurd constitutional amendment stating that marriage is the union of a man and a woman.

The delays in the House finally forced the pirate senator Adéla Šípová to try to present the law in the Senate, which would then discuss it first. Currently seeking support.

Senate Conservatives

The question is whether the situation in the Senate is better than in the House. When President Petr Pavel recently nominated legal expert Jan Wintra, former president of the Judicial Union Daniela Zemanová, and former president of the Supreme Administrative Court Josef Baxa to the posts of constitutional judges, Tomáš Goláň from the ODS and Zdeněk Hraba, elected for the movement, immediately began criticizing the nomination of the two latter STAN, from which he left a year ago.

Formally, they objected to trivialities, such as the fact that Zemanová does not have a JUDr. degree, or that both candidates have experience primarily in administrative justice, but in reality their criticism all too clearly revealed a dislike for the fact that both candidates represent a liberal center. For the same reasons, they also resented the composition of the expert committee that Pavel set up to help him find suitable candidates.

Goláň even claimed that the selection was non-transparent, although compared to the way President Miloš Zeman selected the candidates, it was the very essence of transparency. The same Goláň has repeatedly stated that Benda would be a good constitutional judge, even though he has no legal experience and in the past had problems explaining how he actually obtained his JUDr.

In the latest development, the constitutional legal committee of the Senate, led by Golán, did not even recommend that the Senate approve Pavlo’s nominations of Baxa and Zemanová. Only two of the ten committee members present voted for Zemanová, four for Baxa.

These are two renowned lawyers and public figures with a great reputation in professional circles. Baxa was the president of the Supreme Administrative Court, where he had an excellent reputation. He particularly bothered the people around presidents Klaus and Zeman.

At the same time, the members of the committee know that disapproval of both candidates can trigger a crisis. Three seats are currently unfilled in the Senate, while the mandate of four other judges will soon expire. That is also why questions about the motives of their actions are being asked, while the possible answers are not flattering.

It seems that this is not only a clash between conservatives and liberals, but also a rather cynical power game, in which, according to various reports, not only the effort to show “who is who” to President Pavlo plays a role, but also the ambition of some judges and dignitaries of the Supreme Court to become with constitutional judges.

There is also talk of mutual aversion between the Supreme Court and the Supreme Administrative Court, as well as the influence of people appointed by President Miloš Zeman to lead these institutions. None of this should influence the decision-making of the committee members, the criteria should be the expertise and reputation of the candidates.

It is certain that the clash between the senators, who took the lead in the fight with President Pavel, may not end well for them. They may block his nominations, but their actions exude such a degree of expediency that the public, in which Pavel enjoys a high level of support, may turn to him when they seek to defend their posts in the senate elections.

In the House of Representatives, in their holy fight against the Istanbul Treaty and the marriage of same-sex couples, the conservatives are in danger of being bypassed by Andrej Babiš. Although he has been pretending to be a conservative lately, some of his MPs support the approval of both the Istanbul Treaty and marriage for all. Considering that most of the public supports them as well, and Babiš is a flexible political tactician, his eventual support to help pass both norms would be a masterstroke that could win him points in public opinion.

What is certain is that the political games surrounding the Istanbul Treaty, the same-sex marriage law and the nominations of the president to the ÚS can have consequences far beyond the somewhat bizarre conditions in the Czech political pond.

Since the beginning of Russian aggression in Ukraine, the Czech Republic has improved its international reputation not only thanks to its assistance to Ukraine, but also thanks to the well-managed EU presidency. In Western Europe, it began to be perceived as the first country in our region that perhaps managed to escape from the snares of post-communist populism, as well as find the necessary distance from the Visegrad Four, which in recent years earned a bad reputation in the Union.

If the Czech conservatives succeed in blocking the ratification of the Istanbul Treaty and the approval of the law on marriage for all, and the pro-Western President Pavel finds himself under pressure from politicians who sometimes view minorities and “traditional values” similarly to Putin’s Russia or Orbán’s Hungary, this may be political capital wasted.

In the sentence “In the latest developments, the constitutional legal committee of the Senate, led by Hrába, did not even recommend that the Senate approve Pavlov’s nominations of Baxa and Zemanová.” we corrected the wrongly stated name. The correct wording is “In the latest development, the constitutional legal committee of the Senate, led by Golán, did not even recommend that the Senate approve Pavlo’s nominations of Baxa and Zemanová.” We apologize to the readers. Editor DR

Source: Deník referendum by

*The article has been translated based on the content of Deník referendum by If there is any problem regarding the content, copyright, please leave a report below the article. We will try to process as quickly as possible to protect the rights of the author. Thank you very much!

*We just want readers to access information more quickly and easily with other multilingual content, instead of information only available in a certain language.

*We always respect the copyright of the content of the author and always include the original link of the source article.If the author disagrees, just leave the report below the article, the article will be edited or deleted at the request of the author. Thanks very much! Best regards!