Czech Social Democratic Party (Česká strana sociálně demokraticka, ČSSD)

The Czech Social Democratic Party was established during the 1990s and quickly became the strongest left wing party. In the first years after the Velvet revolution, ČSSD was faced with strong competition on the left wing by KSČM. Unlike political parties in other CEE countries, ČSSD had a social and political advantage thanks to the long history of the party, being the oldest political party in the Czech Republic. This was very helpful for the party when standing up against the Communist party in the early post-revolutionary period. Although the elections in 1990 and 1992 could refer to the revolution, the anti-communist backlash brought about weak and unsatisfactory election results. ČSSD got just a few votes over the 5% limit. Subsequent changes in the leadership brought gains, however. The new party leader Miloš Zeman made the party act more confrontationally towards the centre-right government

From 1998 to 2002 the party formed a minority government with the support of ODS, and in the period from 2002 to 2006 there was the emergence of a ČSSD minimum majority centre-left cabinet with conservative KDU-ČSL and liberal US-DEU. The first cabinet is commonly understood to have come about because of the strong role of Miloš Zeman, the chairman of the party. In the period 2002 to 2006 the party had to change its leader three times. Jiří Paroubek saved the party from a deep crisis, but his new leadership did not bring about an election victory in either the 2006, 2009 or 2010 elections. After the 2010 election defeat, Paroubek resigned to the chairman position.

Over the last 20 years  ČSSD has shared the main goal of Czech foreign policy with ODS and supported Czech entrance into NATO in 1999, followed by membership in the EU in 2004. In 1996 the ČSSD leadership confirmed  the commitment to the accession of the Czech Republic to the EU as early as possible. At the same time, the party strongly rejected national feelings that could lead the country into international isolation. Similarly to ODS, the Social Democrats promoted themselves as defenders of Czech national interests. In comparison to ODS, ČSSD defends these interests more in a rhetorical way. ČSSD supports deeper integration into the EU, particularly in the decision making process, transparency and effectiveness

Election gains
  2006 2009 2010 2013 2014
Votes 32.32 % 22.38 % 22.08 % 20.45 % 14.17%
Seats 74 7 56 50 4

source: volby.cz, europarl.europa.eu

2006

The party's positive attitude to European values is visible in other aspects as well. The Social Democrats support a stronger emphasis on human rights and the constituting of multicultural society in general. This immigrant and minority-friendly policy is further developed by an emphasis on the integration of excluded minorities. The party supports more intensive integration and motivation of the Roma minority. The most effective policy for their integration is education and positive illustrations of successful members of this minority. Together with social support there is a need for stronger observation of equality within the society. This support is connected with a strong rejection of growing neo-nationalism, mostly in excluded areas. In the case of the immigrant and minority support ČSSD advocates for better integration of minorities, specifically for equal access to education and the school system. In favor of a positive immigration policy, the party supports cultural, religious, and national tolerance. Equality should be promoted mostly in religious issues – all churches must be perceived as equal with the same social respect. Contrary to the emphasis on tolerance and equality, the party wants to support  Czech national culture. The main goal of this policy is to avoid the unsatisfactory commercialization of the national culture. This call is also supported by ČSSD's  promoting of a positive image of the Czech Republic abroad. In connection with this promotion, the party calls for further development of the Czech language to support better integration and the identification of not only minorities but of all individuals.

2010*

The category of human rights and equality is mentioned in the manifestos differently. ČSSD promotes the human rights issue with a bigger emphasis then the other two parties. The Social Democrats' concern in this policy is the issue of the Roma minority and the need for their integration into the majority society. In the context of human rights, the Social Democrats associate this issue with the rejection of discrimination of immigrants and all minorities in general. When it comes to the promotion of a common foreign policy, it is interesting to note the emphasis on human rights and the acknowledgement of all types of discrimination, but at the national level a similar focus is less important or is missing completely. One positive outcome from EU activities can be the creation of a more integrated asylum and immigration policy. The goal is to go behind harmonization and to shift integration to a new quality level. The accent on European equality is also mentioned as an issue vis-a-vis the tolerance of minorities. In this context there is a need to prevent the ongoing discrimination of the Roma minority. A more national-friendly policy also applies to immigration policy. ČSSD supports the idea that all immigrants are welcomed if they fulfill certain adaptation criteria such as basic knowledge of the Czech language and basic moral and ethical principles. A further issue is  ČSSD's specific support for Slavic immigrants from south or south-east Europe. These steps should lead to the strengthening of Czech cultural identity and its promotion in domestic matters.

2013

Considering the fact that in the 2010 election manifesto the party used anti-immigrant rhetoric, the 2013 election manifesto centred the party positioning vis à vis the issues analysed here. Although on the regional level some politicians used anti-Roma rhetoric, the election manifesto did not mention this issue. The manifesto is classified as the European approach.

The party supports  affordable energy for the Czech industry and the building of nuclear power plants only if it is profitable for the Czech national economy. Similarly to other parties, CSSD supports Czech foodstuffs in the supermarkets and Czech agriculture in general. Social democrats define the Czech national interest in a broader perspective; the Czech national interest is a successful continuation of European integration. However, the party calls for enforcement of Czech interests by Czechs working in the EU Institutions. In this case, the party stresses, similarly to the German SPD, the social dimension of integration. Nevertheless, the party supports the deepening of integration and believes the Czech Republic should join the Eurozone when it is beneficial to do so.  In general terms, the party defines the Czech Republic as being a part of the European civilised nations.

Culture is perceived as a public service and should be supported by the state. Surprisingly, the party defines sport as an element for exporting Czech national identity abroad.

*Please note the party shift to the homogenization category