Next week the Czech Republic elects their first government since a vote of no-confidence dissolved the former and set up a steward administration. The right-of-center Civil Democrats are insisting on a conservative fiscal policy aimed at stabilizing the economy, whereas the liberal Social Democrats (the only party willing to form a coalition with the Communists) are promising everything to everyone (entitlements, abolishment of medical fees concurrent with expanded healthcare, extended sick leave with benefits, etc.). Asked how they might pay for these welfare state programs, the Social Dems concluded on a direct tax upon the country's successful energy company, CEZ.
Sound at all familiar? The words "hope" and "change" can be found on campaign posters (which litter the country - the Social Dems having spent more than all other parties combined). No constituency is left behind in promises for greater ease and comfort through state-controlled subsidies. Successful businesses are targeted with vilification campaigns and sought to be punished and plundered. And the party is widely identified with a charismatic leader.
Though originally expected to show a solid second finish, the Social Dems are now well in the lead. Limitless promises during an economic crisis have availed them well. Despite having betrayed them for Russia, Obama still seems popular among the rank-and-file of Social Dem supporters.
I wish my dear Czechs good fortune in their plans. They do not all seem to have learned from recent history, to the great reward of the socialist-minded agents amongst them.