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Czech Republic: Parliamentary elections a triumphal march of capital

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The results of the parliamentary elections in the Czech Republic are the worst in the history of the workers' movement at least since 1920. With 7.3 percent, a loss of 13.1 percentage points, the outgoing governing party, the Czech Social Democratic Party, ČSSD, had the third worst result in its history. The Communist Party of the Czech Republic and Moravia, KSČM, the successor to the Stalinist party, had its worst ever result with 7.8 percent of the vote. As in the rest of Europe, the Czech election represents a victory for capital, gained by mobilising racism for the class struggle from above, and a historic defeat for the bourgeois workers' parties.

Social shift to the right
Like many other social democratic parties, the ČSSD participated in government, pursuing policies against the interests of the working class. At the same time, it adapted to a wave of racism in the Czech Republic. A new bourgeois reactionary party, the party of Freedom and Direct Democracy, SPD, has now entered parliament with 10.6 percent of the vote. It is the successor to Dawn, which was led by the same chairman, Tomio Okamura, and gained 6.9 percent in 2013. Against the background of the rise of racism as a reaction to the "refugee crisis", which hardly affected the Visegrád states, apart from Hungary, the bourgeois workers' parties have normalised and adapted to racism.

While the KSČM was ready for openly reactionary politics and thus competed with the right-wing SPD, the ČSSD tried to manoeuvre between bourgeois liberal anti-racism and open racism, creating divisions within the party. The marginal increase in the SPD's vote, compared to that for Dawn in the last election, shows that it was not the decisive cause of the collapse of the bourgeois workers' parties. The lost 20 percent went mainly to two other parties; the bourgeois populist party ANO ("yes") of the richest Czech capitalist, Andrej Babiš, which improved by 11 percentage points to a total of 29.6 percent, and to the Pirate Party, which represents a petty bourgeois liberal programme including, for example, the legalisation of cannabis, as well as the demand for more "direct democracy". With 10.8 percent, it was the most successful of the new parties to enter parliament.

A billionaire against the system?
This result is not due to a worsening economic situation; wages, employment rates and GDP are all rising, nor even, as in the Netherlands, to Social Democracy's extremely opportunistic policy. Rather, it reflects the complete inability of the bourgeois workers' parties to relate to a widespread climate of "anti-systemic" populism. Both in government and during the election, Babiš led a very skilful and effective populist campaign, in which he condemned, as the junior partner in the government, its alleged corruption, although he doubled his own wealth while in government. Apart from that, he also condemned the entire party politics of the two formerly largest parties, ČSSD and ODS, as the rubbish of the past.

Much of Babiš' attractiveness lay in his status as a successful entrepreneur and his ideology of "the citizen as shareholder" in the state business, which should be managed like a private company. The elections are thus a symbol of the break with the "traditional" party system, which accounted for little more than 50 percent of the votes. The opponents of Babiš, on the other hand, only talked about the "democratic forces", while there was no clear anti-capitalist and revolutionary criticism of oligarchic politics, even on the extra-parliamentary left.

Despite his good result, Babiš will not find it easy to form a coalition government. With 78 seats in parliament, he still needs at least 23 seats, and the only potential partner, the bourgeois ODS, has already rejected coalition. The other four bourgeois parties, the Pirates, the Christian-social KDU-ČSL, the conservative TOP 09 and the regionalist STAN have also rejected the formation of a government with Babiš. Only the right-wing SPD has not expressed its opposition. This rejectionist attitude is mainly due to his Berlusconi-like authoritarian tendencies, his oligarchic leadership and his background in the Stalinist bureaucracy.

The formation of a government will therefore only be possible with the support of the two bourgeois workers' parties and/or the SPD. The first signs after the debacle suggest that the bourgeois workers' parties are likely to follow the course of racism and opportunism, thus betraying the interests of the working class even more. At the same time, the strength of the bourgeois forces will allow a decisive attack on workers' rights and the social system.

For a clear, proletarian opposition
The failure is also due to the radical left, which is dominated by anarchist forces who, either opportunistically concentrate on liberal, moralist-antiracist and anti-nationalist criticism and do not want to build their own party, or are not clearly anti-Stalinist. Some even concentrate their forces on the Green Party, which does not even have a left-reformist programme. The Greens in fact experienced the second worst result in their history, even though they have only sat in Parliament twice, mainly as a result of a very poor campaign.

The left is convinced that an adaptation to the reformist and anti-communist consciousness is necessary and that the ideological struggle can only be fought with empty words like "solidarity", moral anti-racism and anti-sexism. For many, the real goal is actually a left-wing liberal party. Instead, the elections showed that anti-systemic and “radical” demands are well received by voters. In the case of ANO and SPD, however, rhetoric against the "thieves" in the government, who steal "taxpayers' money", which could appear to express the interests of the workers, were combined with racist and social-chauvinist demands.

The task of the left in this situation, in which bourgeois forces use racism and populism to increase their profits, is to point out the real enemies of the working class and to raise demands that express its economic and political interests, as opposed to those of the bourgeoisie. In this way it has to combine the struggle for the immediate interests of the working class with the building of a revolutionary party.