Saturday, 25 November 2017

Czech parties take clear stances on EU before election

ČTK |
19 October 2017

Prague, Oct 18 (CTK) - Three different attitudes to European integration have appeared in Czech politics in the recent days, Petr Honzejk writes in daily Hospodarske noviny (HN) on Wednesday, two days before the general election.

The attitude to European integration is one of the crucial topics of the elections and it is good to know the positions of Czech parties. The voters who want to make their decision based on the future position of the Czech Republic in Europe have the domestic political map arranged rather clearly, Honzejk writes.

The euro is rather unpopular among Czechs and those who support the introduction of the joint currency in the country risk a lot before the elections. This group includes the right-wing TOP 09, the centrist Christian Democratic Union (KDU-CSL), and the Social Democrats (CSSD), thanks to the fresh pro-euro statement of their election leader Lubomir Zaoralek, Honzejk says.

The second group is hesitant and it comprises the Civic Democrats (ODS) who in short proclaim "no to euro, no to Germany but let's stay in the EU," and the ANO movement of Andrej Babis which turned from being a strong supporter of integration to a sceptical party that rejects both the euro and a deeper European integration. This change made over the past four years was confirmed by the fact that the original author of ANO's European affairs programme, the current European Parliament Vice President Pavel Telicka, ended his cooperation with the party a few days ago, Honzejk writes.

He says the third group represents openly nationalist, Europhobic parties, especially the Freedom and Direct Democracy (SPD) movement of Tomio Okamura, but also the Communists (KSCM). In their opposition to the West, the Communists primarily focus on the effort to leave NATO, however, Honzejk writes.

In connection with the fresh CSSD support for euro adoption, Honzejk says this seems a courageous step from Zaoralek to take.

Zaoralek does not claim that the euro is wonderful and should be adopted as soon as possible. He only pragmatically declares that if a EU hard core starts being created around the euro zone, which is the aim of French President Emmanuel Macron, the Czechs should join this group. Even such a statement is extraordinary in Czech politics, Honzejk writes.

But opinion polls indicate that only one in three Czechs would like the country to introduce the euro. Due to this, the CSSD may pay dearly for Zaoralek's statement made a few days before the elections, Honzejk writes.

It is possible that the Social Democrats concluded that their election result cannot be worse than it is now and they are trying to attract at least a few voters who strongly identify with the EU at the last moment. It is also possible that Zaoralek did not think twice before he made the statement, which is something that happened to him already before, Honzejk writes.

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