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Victorious Topolanek pledges to lead ODS to Victory in 2006

The Civic Democrats (ODS), the country’s main right-wing opposition party, overwhelmingly voted to re-elect Miroslav Topolanek as party chairman at the ODS’s national convention this Sunday.

The sole candidate, Topolanek got 354 of the 391 votes cast in the contest. Topolanek will now lead the party, which currently tops political polls by a wide margin, to the country’s next general elections, set for 2006. An ODS victory then would set Topolanek up as the country’s leading candidate for prime minister.

“Our goal is an election victory that will not only guarantee our participation in the next government, but also a strong mandate allowing us to carry out our program. My ambition is to form the next government,” the daily Mlada fronta Dnes (MfD) quotes Topolanek as saying.

Topolanek took over the party two years ago, replacing current Czech President Vaclav Klaus. Under Topolonek, the party has won the presidency, elections to the European Parliament (EP) and most recently, a resounding victory in Senate and regional elections.

Topolanek and the ODS have pledged to carry out a number of radical reforms if the party wins the next elections, including reforms to the tax system as well as the social and health care systems.

In other elections to the ODS executive board, Petr Necas, and ODS MP and shadow defense minister, bested Prague Mayor Pavel Bem to win the post of first deputy chairman. Necas eked out a victory with 197 votes to 180 for Bem.

Bem had to settle for one of the party’s four deputy chairman positions. Petr Bendl, Ivan Langer and Miroslava Nemcova were also elected deputy chairmen.

(Interfax 10.xii.04)

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