Ten Per Cent in Retirement
You see, whenever a regime falls from power in Prague, its representatives don't simply disappear, and its supporters don't all simply accept the new regime. In the ashes of the fallen regime, a nugget of the party faithful remains to the cause even though most of the party's supporters have long-since abandoned the cause in a wave of careerist pragmatism. Take the Communists for example. One might have thought that after forty years of failed economics and an appalling human rights record, the Communist Party would have been thoroughly discredited. But no, there are always a few die-hards who hold on and continue to vote for the rotten lot. The political history of ODS is not nearly as wicked as that of the Communists, and their regime luckily did not last as long, but still there is a comparison to be made here. Even after the party is discredited by its mismanagement of the economy and by various scandals, a certain core of eternal support remains.
The surprising thing is that in both of these cases the discredited former leading parties have maintained the same level of support: about 10% of voter preference. Neither historical fact nor scandal, it seems, can deter that die-hard 10% of leftover support.
There is a lesson here for active politicians today. As long as your party attains power, your political career is guaranteed even long after your regime falls. You can think of it as a retirement benefit for washed-up politicians: 10% through thick and thin.
It is with this in mind that the Czech Republic has no reason to fear CSSD. They will have their day in the sun, sooner or later they will fall from grace and retire to the green pastures of 10% Land. Of course, this depends upon them getting into power BEFORE a serious scandal breaks, which may not be likely at the moment.
With this "rule of 10% in retirement", one can make several long-term predictions. In a few years, CSSD will have fallen from power, and there will be three 10% parties in retirement. A few years after that, party number four will join the club, and perhaps by the year 2005 or 2010, the Czech Republic will see its first washed-up party coalition government. I imagine that such a coalition of losers would have quite an appeal. It would rely on everyone's nostalgia for old times. Obviously, the politicians could not be specific about which old times. It would be more of a generalised nostalgia, perhaps a nostalgia for a more ideological era. The programme of such a coalition would be straightforward: stay in power long enough to renew its core support of die-hards and re-invigorate that 10% that keep voting for the past.