Prague - Two days after their landslide victory in regional elections on Saturday, the opposition Social Democrats (ČSSD) officially announced what coalition partners they would prefer in the new regional governments.
Party leader Jiří Paroubek said at a press conference on Monday 20 October that the ČSSD would prefer to team up with the Christian Democrats (KDU-ČSL) and smaller political groups.
Only if the talks failed would the ČSSD consider cooperation with the Communist Party (KSČM), Paroubek added.
"Cooperation with the KSČM is the last resort in case the centre parties fail to show enough common sense," said Paroubek. He added the party will incist that its future coalition partners help it fulfil its "three pledges, with which he have won this grandiose victory".
Before the elections, the ČSSD pledged regional governments would cover medical fees for socially disadvantaged patients in regional hospitals; retirement homes and social care facilities would not be privatized; and the party would reverse the current transformation of regional hospitals from non-profit organizations to joint-stock companies.
Paroubek rejected coalitions with the right-wing Civic Democrats (ODS), citing major differences in the two parties' policies. He added that only in exceptional cases may some seats in regional councils go to ODS representatives.
"I can imagine a multi-party regional council, where the ČSSD would have a majority. I think this would be useful. This is how it works in some parts of the world, but we don't have enough experience with this," Paroubek added.
No-confidence vote matters
The opposition leader also said that the KDU-ČSL could improve its position in the upcoming negotiations on regional coalitions if it helped the opposition topple the national government in a no-confidence vote scheduled for Wednesday 22 October.
"If the Christian Democrats understood that new opportunities are opening up for them, it would speed up and simplify the talks," he said.
Paroubek also showed a desire to match his victory in the regions with a similar triumph in the second round of the Senate by-elections this coming weekend. He called on the voters to even up the share of Senate seats occupied by his party and the ODS, which currently holds 41 of 80 seats.