Czech Republic in the Early 2000’s

By | June 2, 2022

According to topschoolsintheusa, the main issues that the Czech Republic was called upon to address on the threshold of 2000 were the strengthening of the economy and the consolidation of the budget, both indispensable for entry into the European Union, considered a fundamental stage in the economic and social development of the country.. The minority government, in office since 1998, focused on achieving these objectives, formed by the Social Democratic Party and led by its leader M. Zeman, who set among his priorities the improvement of public accounts and the continuation of the privatization policy started in previous years, thanks to the agreement reached with the moderate Civic Democratic Party. The latter, while not formally supporting the government, had guaranteed its neutrality with respect to the choices of the executive, which, for its part, had pledged to seek agreement with the moderates on the main political issues.

Contrasts that arose within the Social Democratic Party led in April 2001 to Zeman’s resignation from his leadership, who was hired by V. Spidla, former minister of labor and social affairs. After the new victory achieved by the Social Democrats in the elections of June 2002 (30 % of the votes, against 24 % of the Civic Democratic Party and 18% of the Communist Party), Spidla, appointed prime minister, formed a center-left coalition government, to which the Christian Democratic Union and the Union of Freedom joined. The new executive continued the market liberalization policy and implemented a series of economic and fiscal reforms specifically aimed at reducing public debt.

The cuts in social spending, however, created serious disagreements within the coalition and the Social Democratic Party itself, whose left wing harshly contested the choices of the premier. Strong protests also arose from the trade union circles, traditionally linked to the Social Democrats, who began to distance themselves from Spidla and promoted agitation and strikes against the proposed reform of the pension system and cuts to health. Social discontent was also fueled by the unemployment rate, which since the late 1990s had returned to growth despite the dynamism of the commercial sector and the constant increase in foreign investment. The difficulties of the majority emerged at the institutional level in February 2003, when in the presidential elections the government candidate was beaten by that of the opposition: V. Klaus, former prime minister from 1992 to 1997, thus took over from V. Havel, who had finished his second term. Entry into the EU (May 2004) crowned the executive’s efforts to permanently insert the country into the Western orbit, but did not translate into an increase in consensus for the Social Democratic Party. The European elections, held in June, in fact recorded its collapse: it obtained only 8.9 % of the votes, against 30 % of the Civic Democratic Party and 20% of the Communist Party. Following the election results, Spidla resigned, and in July a new executive was formed, made up of the same coalition and led by the Social Democrat S. Gross, former interior minister. Although he had presented himself with a program to relaunch social policies and had set aside the plans to reform the social security system, Gross was unable to win back the electorate, and the administrative consultations in November, in which less than 30 % of the electorate participated, reaffirmed the decline of the Social Democrats, who obtained only 14 % of the votes, behind the Civic Democratic Party (36 %) and the Communist Party (21%), which was confirmed as the second political force in the country. In the following months, the majority continued to struggle with serious internal difficulties, which culminated in March 2005 in the exit from the government of the Christian Democratic Union, and in April in the resignation of Gross, involved in a financial scandal. Rejected the request for early elections, put forward by the Civic Democratic Party, President Klaus gave the task of forming a new executive to J. Paroubek, a Social Democrat, who managed to re-establish an agreement with previous government allies and gain the confidence of the Parliament.

On an international level, the country continued the policy of rapprochement with Slovakia and a balance between Moscow and Washington, maintaining relaxed relations with both. Contrasts arose with Austria at the beginning of the 2000s, following the decision of the Czech government to activate a nuclear power plant for the production of electricity in Temelin, in southern Bohemia. The protests of the Austrian government and environmental movements led the Czech authorities to accept the inspection of a European commission to verify the safety of the plants; in 2003 the plant was authorized to start operations for a trial period.

Czech Republic in the Early 2000's