Idealism beats pragmatism: Sobotka new Socialist leader
19. 3. 2011 3:27
Favorable opinion polls indicate that new Social Democracy leader can become PM after general election
Bohuslav Sobotka, the new leader of the Czech Social Democratic Party
Bohuslav Sobotka, the new leader of the Czech Social Democratic Party | Foto: Petr Protivánek

Brno - Bohuslav Sobotka was elected the new Social Democratic chairman in Brno during the party's congress. He won in the second round of voting, when he received 304 votes out of 600 delegates. His only rival, Michal Hašek, received 285 votes.

In the first round, neither of the two candidates received an absolute majority.

Read more: Sobotka promises to defend welfare state if elected

The Czech Social Democratic Party is the Czech Republic largest opposition party.

After Jiří Paroubek resigned as the party's chairman in 2010, Sobotka became an acting chairman. The vote in Brno made his position formal.

Read more: Czech Socialist leader resigns after winning election

His rival Hašek was elected the first deputy chairman.

While  Bohuslav Sobotka is perceived as a more idealistic, traditionally left-wing statesman, prepared to defend the welfare state, Michal Hašek is a rather pragmatic politician keen on re-orientating the party towards the political center, in a Britain's New Labour fashion.

Read more: Hasek vows to make Social Democracy catch-all party

Representatives of the center-right government commented on the vote.

"I do not expect any deviation from the politic of populism of the Social Democrats," said PM Petr Nečas from the Civic Democratic Party (ODS), the largest member of the coalition.

Vít Barta, the transport minister and gray eminence of the Public Affairs, a junior coalition member, was less confrontational. "I hope a responsible debate about the pension and health system reform will take place, without the necessity to be a priori against it."

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