Election result is break in Czech party system – German analysts
Berlin, Oct 22 (CTK correspondent) – The October 20-21 Czech general election outcome means a break, since protest parties clearly succeeded at the cost of traditional ones, German political analysts have agreed, saying it need not be easy at all for the winning ANO movement to form a new government.
The new Czech cabinet will probably be led by ANO chairman Andrej Babis, something that could never happen in Germany, they said.
“This is a huge break in the Czech system of political parties,” Kai-Olaf Lang, a specialist in Czech politics from the Foundation for science and politics SWP said.
“The election result is a political earthquake and a break in the party system in the Czech Republic,” said Milan Nic, from the German association for foreign policy DGAP.
He said the record nine parties’ entry into the Czech Chamber of Deputies obviously confirms the trend of a rising fragmentation of European parliaments.
“The non-standard parties have gained 50 to 60 percent of the vote, depending on our approach [to what we take for non-standard],” Lang said, referring to the success of ANO (29.6 percent), Pirates (10.8) and the Freedom and Direct Democracy (10.6).
In the case of the Communists (KSCM, 7.8 percent), the question is whether they can be taken for a standard party, he said.
Nic said the elections were a cold shower for the classical parties with a clear ideological profile, except for the Civic Democrats (ODS).
According to Lang, an implosion and a debacle can be spoken about in the case of the CSSD only, which gained a mere 7.3 percent of the vote, down from 20.5 percent in the previous elections four years ago.
Noteworthily, none of the CSSD’s leading representatives resigned from their posts following the party’s poor result, Lang said, adding that the CSSD, which has been disappearing from the political spectrum like its counterparts in Poland and Hungary, must focus on its renewal now.
Lang said the election results are surprising in view of the country’s good economic condition and he ascribed them to a coincidence of several factors.
One of them is the Czech public’s fear, including of migration. “Another factor is people’s long-lasting dissatisfaction with the established political leadership,” he said.
Nic, too, said he considers Czech voters’ desire for a change and their rejection of the established leaders crucial.
He and Lang said Babis has comprehended these moods and managed to benefit from them despite ANO’s four-year participation in the government so far.
Furthermore, Babis may have benefited from having been forced to resign as finance minister in May, which made the torpedoing of political rivals easier for him, Nic said.
Lang pointed to the difference between the distinguished and impressive personalities of Babis and SPD chairman Tomio Okamura, compared with tedious or unpopular [traditional parties’] leaders such as PM Bohuslav Sobotka (CSSD) and TOP 09 chairman Miroslav Kalousek.
Despite Babis’s clear victory, it might take him long to form a government because many politicians refuse to ally with him due to his ongoing prosecution for a subsidy fraud, Nic said.
Lang said in Germany, such prosecution would be a clear obstacle for Babis’s becoming head of the government.
“I can’t imagine something like this in Germany,” he said, adding that prosecution would be an insurmountable obstacle in both people’s and potential coalition partners’ eyes.
Lang said he does not expect the new government of ANO, possibly ruling in a coalition with the ODS and the Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL), to dramatically change Prague’s foreign political orientation.
“I don’t believe that a big negative change will occur in relation to Germany, for example,” he said, adding that Babis, a billionaire entrepreneur, owns companies also in Germany.
Nic, too, emphasised that the Czech Republic’s position close to Germany has not been challenged during the election campaign.
He said it will be important how Babis, who is not much interested in European politics, will face Germany’s scepticism about him in a situation where German media prevailingly depict him as a populist and Eurosceptic.
That is why the filling of posts such as the Czech foreign minister and the state secretary for European affairs is crucial, Nic said.
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