Civic Democratic Party, (Občanská demokratická strana, ODS)

Civic Democratic Party was the dominant conservative formation in the Czech Republic. The beginning of its political activity is dated in the early 1990s due to fragmentation of OF. Václav Klaus led the conservative stream inside the OF. During the time early after election in 1990 Václav Klaus was elected as the chairman of OF and he started creating new party based on conservative neoliberal ideas. ODS was the most successful political party in elections in 1991, 1992 and in 1996, and Václav Klaus became the prime minister for three times. 

Personally Václav Klaus started with the promotion of certain events in the 20th century, namely World War 2 and its consequences. One specific Czech issue was the guarantee of post-war arrangements namely in the case of Beneš decrees after accession. This strong national focus reached its peak in the 2002 election campaign. The former leader Klaus declared that the ODS would not support such a form of EU accession. The ODS defeat in the 2002 election was caused by the previous special bilateral agreement with ČSSD and partly by misusing this negative approach towards the EU and European integration in general. Despite these growing negative tendencies against the EU, ODS supported the accession of the Czech Republic to the European Union and subsequently voted “yes” in the referendum.

Substantial ideological change did not arrive with the new party leader Mirek Topolánek. The former chairman was replaced in November 2002 by the less charismatic and more moderate Mirek Topolánek. The European Parliament election and continuing period in opposition did not change the basic policy premises of ODS. The national focus did not reach as much importance compared to 2002 but the Euro-sceptic policy approach was not changed. Socio-economic issues once again rose to prominence. Under the leadership of ODS a centre-right government coalition was formed again with TOP 09 and VV as coalition partners. 

In the 2006 general election ODS gained the biggest number of votes and formed a centre-right coalition government with KDU-ČSL and the Green Party. The government reality ensured that the Euro-sceptic tone was softened. The internal tension within the party appeared again in 2007. The negotiating of the Lisbon Treaty and its final version caused a strong dispute between President Klaus' followers and those of the moderate wing around Prime Minister Topolánek. The shifting of European policy towards pragmatism was followed by the Czech EU-Presidency in 2009 which can be understood as a peak of EU-education or rather the “Europaisation” of ODS. The consequence of this process was the exit from the party of Václav Klaus in December 2008.

Election gains
  2006 2009 2010 2013 2014
Votes 35.38 % 31.45% 20.22 % 7. 72 % 7.67 %
Seats 81 9 53 16 2

source: volby.cz, europarl.europa.eu

Election manifestos 2006 and 2010

Generally, in the time after EU-accession the European policy has been coherent in its bases and at the same time the policy is getting more pragmatic. New dimension of the European policy – energy security is extended in the content of 2010 manifesto. This is a partly heritage of the Czech presidency and a partly calling for defending state interests. The significant point is the missing wide consensus of the energy security on to policy level. ODS calls for better coordination (new competence) but in the manifestos miss the institutional background for strengthening the coordination. Although the party supports the flexible integration it is not used in this case.

Generally, throughout the period after the Czech accession to the EU, the European policy has been coherent in its essentials and at the same time the policy is getting more pragmatic. The new dimension of European policy – energy security – is extended in the content of the 2009 and 2010 manifestos. This is partly a knock-on effect of the Czech presidency and partly a calling for the defending of state interests. The significant point is the missing wide consensus on energy security on to the policy level. ODS calls for better coordination (new competence) but in the manifestos misses the institutional background for strengthening the coordination. Although the party supports flexible integration it is not applied in this case. In its European policy we can still see a visible legacy of the national emphasis peak dating back to 2002. If one compares this idea with other CEE countries, this emphasis is purely economic and not political. The significant feature is the promoting of transatlantic relations in terms of sharing democratic values and in security issues. The most important pillar of the European security should be NATO in cooperation with the EU security structures. The dominant topics in the 2006 election manifesto are economic and social issues. The question of nationality or sovereignty is marginalized but still remain the basic ideological fundamentals of ODS.

The emphasis on national issues or national interest weakened during time. ODS has shifted to conservative party positions with liberal market elements. The main roles have socio-economic topics and the importance of defending national interest gains more in pragmatic dimension. The party defines the Czech Republic as a country with common national and cultural heritage and at the membership of the Czech Republic to the European space, a country common culture and values at the same time. The position of the country in the European value system is not automatically followed by the need for deeper integration of the EU. The party supports a more instrumental EU integration focused on economical dimension of the EU. The attitude has become rather the “picking the gains” of European integration instead of rejection of integration in general. Also; and as with previous manifestos, the 2010 election program defined as one of the most important priorities the principle of equality in the European policy. At the same time ODS oppose to the continuing sovereignty shift on the supranational level in the fundamental policy issues like foreign policy and tax and fiscal harmonization. The awareness from immigrants is for ODS visible. The party supports immigration based on working reasons and not to settlement of incoming immigrants. ODS supports linkages with compatriots in foreign countries. This strengthening should be an instrument for improving the image of the Czech Republic in the world. The emphasis on the contact or the connections are not, primarily, nationally orientated but the main concern is to promote a better image of the country.

Election manifesto 2013

The 2013 election manifesto can be divided into three thematic parts: European policy, the perception of the nation, and the role of values. The party speaks against joining the Eurozone; however, this does not mean opposition against European integration. ODS considers its ideas to be Euro-realist. It means that the party refuses tax harmonisation on the European level, but supports deeper economic integration. Although the party does not call for maintaining national interests as openly as the ČSSD, the Czechs working in Brussels should represent Czech national interests. Generally, in the party’s view, the Czech Republic should not renege on enforcing of national interests. In the field of foreign policy, the party stresses the cooperation with traditional partners, participating in transatlantic partnership and in NATO as well. Energy security should be a basic attribute of national sovereignty. The spending on the armed forces should increase, among other reasons to support the Czech military industry. In this respect, the support of Czech exporters should be more active.

In field of social unity, the party stresses that the immigration policy must be beneficial for the Czech Republic – only a certain number of immigrants can be accepted. The conditions for permanent residency should be easier for those people who are beneficial for the country. For those who misuse the system, the conditions should be more difficult. Like the other parties, the ODS supports the availability of Czech foodstuffs in stores. The Czech Republic should be self-sufficient in agricultural products.  The state should nurture culture and cultivate its national heritage. However, culture should be perceived individually. In this sense, the role of individuals is strengthened in the manifesto, but the state should be a guarantee against rise of extremism and racism. Similarly to TOP 09, the party stress the cultivation of the landscape as a value.