None of the participants could imagine the KDU-ČSL conventions without the brass band, which wins in front of the main entrance, and girls in traditional costumes, who will not let anyone in without the obligatory shot of plum brandy and tasting homemade cakes. In front of the Clarion Hotel in Ostrava, where the People’s Party met on the weekend, it looked completely different now: solar panels, fast charging stations and electric cars with not only batteries but even hydrogen were on display.
The People’s Party seems to want to impress every guest right at the entrance and clearly demonstrate that they are not just a conservative party defending traditional values. Inside, everyone got a flyer with pictures and an explanation of how the party dreams of the future: Each family house will be energy independent, with solar panels on the roof, a heat pump and an electric car in the garage.
With all this, KDU-ČSL is trying to attract new voters in addition to its rock supporters in Moravia. He knows that in a Czech godless society, the party with the word “Christian” in the name will always be difficult, many will ridicule it and perceive it as a branch of the Catholic Church.
In Ostrava, the People’s Party met in a somewhat schizophrenic situation. On the one hand, they celebrated a lot and boasted, because as part of the Troika coalition, they did win the election. And KDU-ČSL even won a record 23 seats in the Chamber of Deputies, the most in post-November history. On the other hand, opinion polls have repeatedly shown them that they would fail in the elections on their own, because preferences are below the 5% threshold.
What with this? The search for answers only confirmed the schizophrenia mentioned. Party leaders – re-elected leader Marian Jurečka and new first vice-chairman Jan Bartošek – said that it would be nice to keep the Together coalition as long as possible, ideally for the next parliamentary elections. At the same time, however, they excited that the KDU-ČSL brand must in no case dissolve or fit into the Together, and it must be strengthened independently.
How to solve this puzzle? The first is a tried and tested variant, which the People’s Party knows like few others: to be the internal opposition in the government. Just as Joseph Lux did in the 1990s when he zigzagged and criticized the overly fast and harsh economic reforms he had previously voted for.
This possibility of “visibility” is clearly being imposed today, and many delegates called on Marian Jurečka to do so. With pathos, they called for KDU-ČSL to become the “social conscience” of the government. Who else is supposed to stand up for people who are in danger of not having to pay bills soon due to high inflation? And who else should draw attention to the social consequences than the People’s Party, especially when their chairman is the Minister of Labor and Social Affairs?
Marian Jurečka is aware of all this, but he does not want to play the role of government rebel yet. He cannot make such a trip to Prime Minister Petr Fial, because he knows very well that the People’s Party owes a lot to the ODS leader for the record gain of parliamentary seats. He speaks of Fiala with religious respect as a “calm force”, which is otherwise the most unprotected KDU-ČSL brand.
Jureček does not want to be afraid also because this very experienced image of the People’s Party has been trying to change for years. When a pair of unknown people in their thirties, Pavel Bělobrádek and Marian Jurečka, took the lead in 2010 at the head of the completely decimated KDU-ČSL, which had just dropped out of the Chamber of Deputies, it started big changes.
They opened the Conservative Party and at the same time announced that they already had their teeth full of the image of the People’s Party as a barking six percent rat, a snake for three, a tongue on the scales, which always wants to be there and goes with everyone.
True, this story has not always been fulfilled exactly: they have worked with Andrej Babiš in Sobotka’s government for almost four years, or at the last minute they reconsidered the coalition with the STAN movement before the 2017 elections. fixed part of the coalition with ODS and TOP 09.
The second opportunity to make the KDU-ČSL brand visible and not just “snakes” was offered at the weekend by young people whose organizations have a surprisingly strong influence within the party. It is they who push for the KDU-ČSL to become the green party in parliament. It occurs to them that ecology lies on the ground and is clearly suitable for people who, in addition to family issues, have always promoted the care of the landscape.
The party leaders, as the speeches showed, agreed with this. And so the Conservative Party – who would have said it – is a big supporter of the Green Deal today and is calling for progress in modern technology. Moreover, when she still occupied the Ministry of the Environment in the government.
But here the nice story about the green future of KDU-ČSL ends. As the Minister of the Environment Anna Hubáčková stood at the counter at the weekend’s congress, it was clear to the vast majority of delegates in the hall that she would not convince anyone of her modern plans. Not even my party colleagues, let alone new voters.
As they say, whoever wants to light must burn himself. For most of the public, the unknown and utterly indistinct minister read in a monotone voice a paper like at a barracks meeting. After all, KDU-ČSL remarked this at a distance from Petr Pithart in an outspoken allusion to the invisible ministers: Brothers and sisters, you must add, wire up space in the media.
You can have the best program, plans and visions, but if you don’t get excited about it and convince people, it’s useless to you.