The party was found on 7th April 1878. It is the oldest of the existing Czech political parties, dating back to the days of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The party played a significant role in the foundation of Czechoslovakia after World War I, and between the wars it was one of the prominent players on the Czechoslovak political scene. In 1948 it was merged with the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia, but was renewed on 19.11.1989. Since then it has grown into one of the main players on the Czech political scene. It has been the party of Government since 22th August 1998
Vladimir Spidla (who succeeded the current Prime Minister Milos Zeman as party leader in 2001). Mr Spidla is also 1st Deputy Prime Minister
Stanislav Gross (current Interior Minister)
Petr Lachnit (also Regional Development Minister)
Ladislav Svoboda (head of Social Democrats in the Senate)
Bohuslav Sobotka (head of Social Democrats in the House of Deputies)
74 seats (out of 200), 32.31% of the vote. This made the party the overall election victor, with around 3.5% more votes than the second place Civic Democratic Party.
European-style Social Democratic Party, identifying closely with such parties as the Social Democrats in Germany and the British Labour Party. Favours a "social market economy", but in government it has also overseen an acceleration of the privatization process: the main Czech banks are among the most prominent examples. In government the party has also put considerable stress on encouraging foreign investment. On many issues there is a wide spectrum of opinion within the party; for example the Trade and Industry Minister, Miroslav Gregr and the Environment Minister, Milos Kuzvart, have often clashed openly, but for all these differences there have not been major party rifts during the Social Democrats' period of government. The party leadership is strongly pro-European Union and Prime Minister Zeman has expressed Euro-federalist sympathies.
After the parliamentary elections of 1998 brought no clear winner, the Social Democrats, as the party with the most seats in the Chamber of Deputies, signed the so-called "opposition agreement" with the second strongest political force, the right of centre Civic Democratic Party of Vaclav Klaus, under which the Civic Democrats agreed to tolerate the minority Social Democrat government. At the time Milos Zeman described his government (with only just over a third of seats in parliament) as "suicidal", but the party has survived its four-year term without major crisis. In recent years the Social Democrats have been dominated by the current Prime Minister Milos Zeman, but he has now handed over the party leadership to Vladimir Spidla and has announced his intention to retire after the 2002 parliamentary elections. The Social Democratic Party is an active member of the Socialist International.
The party traditionally draws working-class voters in industrial towns. Many of its voters are also public service employees and trade union members. Opinion polls suggest that the party does not have a particularly stable support base.