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European Elections May Affect Czech Domestic Politics, Say Experts

The results of the European Parliament (EP) elections in the Czech Republic could have an impact on some of the parties from the five-party government coalition which underperformed, while the Pirates even face the risk of a split, according to political scientists who spoke to CTK today.

Analyst Miroslav Mares is of the view that the Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL) will probably wait for the autumn regional elections, but a change of their leader cannot be ruled out even before that. He agrees with Jan Kubacek that voices of the protest-minded and dissatisfied parts of the Pirate Party will start to be heard.

The opposition ANO won the European elections in the Czech Republic again, gaining seven seats in the EP, one more than before, ahead of the governing Spolu coalition of the Civic Democrats (ODS), KDU-CSL and TOP 09, which will have six MEPs, losing two. In third place was the coalition of the extra-parliamentary Prisaha movement and the Motorist party, which won two seats. The same number of MEPs (two) went to the Stacilo! coalition, led by the Communists (KSCM), and the Mayors and Personalities for Europe coalition led by the government Mayors and Independents (STAN). The fifth government party, the Pirates, will have only one MEP, down from three. The coalition of the far-right Freedom and Direct Democracy (SPD) with the extra-parliamentary Tricolour will also have one MEP.

ODS managed to defend three of their four seats, KDU-CSL one of their two, and only TOP 09 successfully defended both of its seats.

“KDU-CSL will probably wait for the regional elections, but a change of its leader cannot be ruled out,” Mares said.

After the announcement of the results, KDU-CSL chairman Marian Jurecka described the fulfilment of the conditions he set in the spring for remaining as party leader as “difficult”. At that time, he mentioned three conditions, one of which, maintaining the party’s position in the EP, he has now failed to fulfil.

According to Kubacek, KDU-CSL faces the biggest problem after the elections, but he expects the party to stay in the Spolu coalition rather than trying to run solo in next year’s parliamentary elections. “In the end, I think the cautious option will prevail and it will mean that KDU-CSL will find itself in a submissive position,” he added.

Lubomir Kopecek said Spolu’s EP election result was the maximum possible considering it is the predominant part within an unpopular government.

“It is important that there has been no ‘preferential votes revolution’ and that all three parties have a reasonable number of seats, even though KDU-CSL and ODS have lost one mandate compared to the previous EP,” he said. However, the Spolu project also makes sense for the parliamentary elections, he noted.

“I don’t think the result will cause any big disputes within the parties. The position of the chairman of KDU-CSL, Jurecka, will not be improved by just having one seat, of course, but on the other hand, his position is much more weakened by the long-standing low support for the party and the impact of some of the government steps on its voters,” he added.

Mares said the Pirates could also face the threat of a split after losing two MEP seats.

“Some of the far-left wing could follow Ondrej Dostal to Enough!” he said, referring to a former member of the advisory team of the Pirates and STAN coalition, who has now entered the EP as the number two on the candidate list led by KSCM leader Katerina Konecna.

According to Kopecek, a big internal debate can be expected in the Pirate Party. “There will probably be an internal dispute about their participation in the government, but on the other hand, the Pirates are not expected to leave the government over less important elections like the European ones,” he noted.

Kubacek also said that protest-minded and dissatisfied factions within the party would start to emerge. He added that he believed the Pirates would start a gradual separation from the coalition cabinet.

Kubacek expects a moment of deep self-reflection from STAN, who are trying to further raise their profile in the coalition as its second strongest member. They will try not to be interchangeable, he said.

“STAN clearly finished worse than its expectations, but on the other hand, two mandates and almost 9% of the vote is not a bad result for a small party,” Kopecek said.

The political analysts also commented on the election results of the opposition and extra-parliamentary parties.

After the success of non-parliamentary parties in the European Parliament (EP) elections, ANO will start thinking about who its potential coalition partner might be. At the same time, however, it will begin to define itself against such entities because it is fighting for similar voters, Kubacek told CTK.

Mares said the success of new entities in the EP elections did not always mean an automatic transfer of votes to the national parliamentary elections.

SPD leader Tomio Okamura has now lost his monopoly on criticism and opposition, which is why we might expect even more attacks against Stacilo! and Prisaha, as he will consider them direct competitors and challengers, Kubacek believes.

In his opinion, ANO is taking the result of the EP elections as the start of its permanent campaign culminating in the 2025 parliamentary elections, and also as a huge psychological boost. With Sunday’s victory, the movement fully launched its campaign themed around dissatisfaction with the five-party coalition government, Kubacek noted.

According to Mares, Motorists leader Filip Turek emerged as the successful driving force behind the Prisaha and Motorists’ candidate list, but both entities may struggle to find an adequate personality in the elections to the Chamber of Deputies.

Kubacek said SPD had chosen the wrong strategy. Its lead candidate Petr Mach, a former MEP and former leader of Svobodni, did not participate often in TV debates, and when he did, he was not visible, while the attention was mainly attracted by Communist Party and Stacilo! coalition leader Katerina Konecna, Kubacek noted.

Kopecek also said that SPD’s result was influenced by the strong personal and thematic competition from Eurosceptic parties. The success of Prisaha with the Motorists, he said, also indicates risks for SPD in the upcoming general election.

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