Final Word from Monday, March 31, 2003

Vladimír Špidla was reelected as ČSSD chairman over the weekend, but it became crystal clear that Vice Chair Stanislav Gross is the one calling the shots. Commentators agreed that he could have easily won election if he had chosen to run, but he spotted Miloš Zeman's trap and threw his weight behind Špidla. Gross doesn't want to be the one who leads ČSSD into what could be a defeat in early elections. The question now is whether Gross intends to continue hiding behind Špidla. By flirting last week with the idea of running, Gross was able to measure his support and flush out some of Zeman's loyalists. He can now go back to pulling the strings behind the scenes and leave the running of the cabinet to Špidla. Or, he can take over more direct responsibility for the cabinet's future. If he doesn't, and the government goes down, he risks getting much of the blame.


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