Two small but notable bits of news today for those of us interested in new parties. Even (perhaps especially) the highest of party officials may go off an found a new party when they find themselves unappreciated in their own:
- Iveta Radicova, Prime Minister of Slovakia, notes that she didn’t join her current party until relatively recently, and does not at all rule out founding a new party if she came to the conclusion that in programmatic or value terms the Slovak political scene needed “a new political actor”: http://spravy.pravda.sk/radicova-duma-nad-svojou-stranou-d43-/sk_domace.asp?c=A111006_123440_sk_domace_p12
- Jiri Paroubek, after his rout within the Social Democrats and a few months of flirting with the small LSNS, has announced the founding of his own party, the National Socialists–21st Century Left: http://zpravy.idnes.cz/politicky-prestup-roku-paroubek-slegr-a-benda-opustili-cssd-prp-/domaci.aspx?c=A111007_095045_domaci_kop
It seems fairly clear that leaders now make parties. Not only do most parties in Slovakia and the Czech Republic have relatively few mechanisms for dislodging their respective leaders (SNS, Smer, HZDS, VV, SaS, TOP 09), but those that do may find their dislodged leaders coming back with parties of their own: First Meciar from VPN and Fico from SDL, now Bugar from SMK-MKP, Zeman from CSSD, Paroubek from CSSD, and potentially (in the right circumstances) Radicova from SDKU (and from ODS, some say post-presidency Vaclav Klaus). Why be the exiled leader of a big party when you can be the leader of your own, somewhat smaller party?
And a postscript: Has Paroubek really named his party the “National Socialists”? I find it hard to believe that the nostalgia for the mild interwar Czech National Socialists has triumphed over the stigma that given to the combination of the words “national” and “socialist” by the once-prominent German party of the same name? (Will Czech parents again feel comfortable naming their baby boys “Adolf”?). It is at least helpful that Paroubek has given his party the subtitle “21st Century Left” to distinguish it from the eponymous party of the “20th Century Right”