|Leader||Petr Mach MEP|
|Founded||14 February 2009|
120 00 Prague 2
Classical liberalism |
|European affiliation||Alliance for Direct Democracy in Europe|
International Alliance of Libertarian Parties|
|European Parliament group||Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy|
|Chamber of Deputies||
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The Party of Free Citizens or the Free Citizens' Party (Czech: Strana svobodných občanů, Svobodní) is a classical liberal and right-libertarian eurosceptic political party in the Czech Republic. It was founded in 2009 by Petr Mach PhD, an economist and a university professor of Macroeconomics. Before taking his position as MEP, he taught at two private business universities in Prague, VŠFS and VŠEM.
It ran in the 2009 European Parliament election in the Czech Republic; among its goals were the failure of the Treaty of Lisbon and forcing a referendum on introduction of the euro in the Czech Republic. It was in talks with Declan Ganley to be part of his EU-wide Libertas movement, but the talks failed. Its logo are the horns of a green ram. Following the 2014 European Parliament election, the party's elected MEP joined the Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy (EFDD) Group.
Currently, the party has one MEP elected (the leader, Petr Mach). Several county councilors successfully ran on the party's ballot in 2010 local election and 38 councilors held positions in mostly small towns and cities. The party set up ballot papers in local election 2014 as well and increased its portion of councilors. There are elected councilors in city districts (Prague 3, Prague 18, Brno-Slatina) and it statutory towns (Chrudim, Hodonín, Kutná Hora, etc.)
The party can be described as libertarian with opposition to high government involvement in the economy and personal lives, and centralization of political power. Its members are advocates of the free market and often subscribe to the Austrian School of economic thought. They seek to lower tax rates and restrict state redistribution of wealth to a minimum, and introduce a constitutional amendment disallowing an unbalanced budget. They also believe that downsizing the government would leave less space for corruption, a somewhat problematic issue of Czech politics.
The membership of the party consists mostly of minarchists, anarcho-capitalists, right-wing libertarians and conservative libertarians.
People can choose from two statuses; to either become a member or to be a registered supporter. Both of the statuses entitle to vote in the primary elections and both can appear and be nominated on the ballot paper. However, only members can elect the leadership of the party.
The Republic's Leadership (Republikove predsednictvo) consists of one president and four vice-presidents. The five have a common responsibility for the party and with the help of the council they make official statements and direct the political affairs of the party. The candidacy for presidency and vice-presidency is separate and members elect them on the summit. After every elections to Chamber of Deputies (The lower house of Czech parliament) the presidency's mandates is over and new leadership has to be elected.
The Republic's Council (Republikovy vybor) consists of 28 members, the Republic's Leadership and 14 heads of each of the Regional's Councils. They are elected via primaries. They help making decisions aka ballot papers approval for Municipalities elections and they solve misconducts etc...
The Regional Councils (Krajske predsednictvo). There are 14 districts of Czech Republic and each has its own presidency as the Republic's one. They decide about new members and money for the local campaign, etc.
The British racing green symbolizes freedom. The party's leader Petr Mach once stated: "Freedom is a lifestyle."
The ram symbolizes the stubborn defensive position towards all endeavor to suppress freedom.
Majority of Czech media agree the largest portion of voters come from the groups of dissatisfied right-wing voters, especially of ODS, the 1990's leader of Czech right-wing politics. These voters were dissatisfied by lack of euroscepticism and paleoconservatism in program of ODS. Many of them are fans of then-leader of ODS, Václav Klaus, later on a president of the country. The minority of the voters are the ones voting previously for liberal parties such as TOP 09, Green Party or US-DEU as these parties lacked libertarianism and euroscepticism as well. A big proportion of voters are first-time voters or those who did not vote anyone previously.
Time to time, especially the 18- to 29-year-old voters base, the party's support is exchanged with the Pirate Party.
Student elections show that if the youth and teens would vote, the support is somehow 4-8%. Apprentices and industrial high schools lead over grammar schools and private schools which is not in correlation with how the adult vote.
The adult electorate of the party are mostly higher educated college graduates, secular and living in larger cities, economically active and working either in IT or as economists. The stronghold of the party is traditionally Prague. Other districts where the party has a lead are cities with lower unemployment such as České Budějovice, Liberec, Hradec Králové, Brno and Zlín.
The party is also popular among small business owners as well. Every year the party organizes a manifest stand-up in front of the Tax offices (Czech IRS) where members and party supporters promote lower taxation policies, pointing out the height of taxation in Czech Republic. This often meets with a positive reaction from the business owners who become supporters or even members.
The polls (autumn 2014) predicted the party would succeed in Prague municipality and several larger cities in Bohemia, such as Mladá Boleslav, České Budějovice, Pardubice and Hradec Králové where the polling reached app. 5%. This did not happen and the party failed to attract voters in larger cities where the results were with app. 3,5%.
Party of Free Citizen's regularly sets up candidates and appears on the ballot in major elections. The candidates are chosen by primary vote on the internet. The registered supporters and members have the right to select and vote for the candidates in American style of voting of preferences. This system is unique in Czech politics as it creates a platform which reflects the most probable taste of the voters. There are no political tensions after the ballot paper is finalized.
The party since its creation has contested in two elections to the lower house of the Parliament, the Chamber of Deputies. To see the electoral system of the Czech Republic, see here.
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The results showed a rising and progressive support during the 2013 election which was contested 7 months prior the regular term. This election was held because of the right-wing government collapse after prime ministers, Petr Nečas, scandal. Due to the fact of distaste, many voters were seeking new alternatives to the right-wing politics. 2013 Legislative election showed best results for Free Citizens Party in districts of Prague, Central Bohemia, Pilsen region and Zlín.
The expenses for the campaign for this election was app. 4 million of CZK. Every party crossing the 1,5% threshold receives back its deposit and extra one-time state-funding. The party therefore gained app. 13 million of CZK making it the second most effective party during the election in terms of cost of every vote.
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European Election is the stronger discipline of the party, as the party is the most dominant hard-line eurosceptic party in the country. These elections also show very low turnout, one of the lowest in the EU. This comes to help to the party, as the loyal core of the voters do show up.
The 2014 election was the first break-through of the party, gaining one seat in the EU parliament for its leader, Petr Mach.
The party’s position on the European Union is eurosceptic. The Free Citizens' Party does not see any possibility how to reform such undemocratic and bureaucratic colossus. The party belong among liberal eurosceptics who do not stress nationalism and it does not oppose the EU because of any nationalistic views. The motivation is purely the unrestricted market and civic liberties as well as opposition to political centralization.
The party supports the idea of independent democratic states cooperating on the basis of free trade and voluntary partnership.
The party lists its manifesto in following chapters:
Political Philosophy Reform
Taxation and Budgetary Politics
Education and Science
Civil Service and Local Governance
Free Market of Information
The leadership can make a stance which can time to time to proclaim or to react to some certain issue occurring in the Czech politics. The stance must be voted in by majority of votes (at least 3 out of 5). Leader and each of the four deputy leaders have equal power of vote.