A Letter from Prague
„After the results were published, several Czech political parties proclaimed that they were happy. Whether there was a reason for merriment is a difficult question to answer.
In my opinion, there was no clear winner. ANO, the party of prime minster Andrej Babiš did win most votes, but the 21 percent ANO received is rather underwhelming (ANO polls around 30% nowadays). As a member of ALDE, ANO possibly faces a domestic image problem if Macron’s party LREM takes a leading role in the European party family. Many voters of ANO do not endorse Macron’s agenda for deeper EU integration.
The second most voted for party, ODS is probably the most successful party, having once again managed to score more votes than the Pirate Party. The party has doubled its representation, but since it belongs to the ECR, it will struggle to be heard in the parliament. The Pirate Party had a somewhat underwhelming performance (it got 13,5% and was aiming for 20%), but even this result is a net improvement on its result in 2014. Pirates now have to choose which parliamentary group to join. There are only two real options and both of them are problematic. ALDE would probably be the closest fit, but ANO is already a part of that group and the Pirates have been fighting hard against Babiš, so this would be quite awkward. The other option, Greens/EFA is also problematic as the Pirates have been positioning themselves as a centre, sometimes even centre-right party.
The last party that can plausibly claim success is Tomio Okamura’s anti-EU party SPD, which has managed to mobilize its voters and enter the parliament for the first time. It seems that SPD’s campaign, which included bringing both Mateo Salvini and Marie LePen to Prague was successful in convincing enough of their supporters to bother to vote. Three other groups have managed to gain seats (STAN + TOP09, KSČM and KDU-ČSL), but all of them with diminished numbers of votes. The last notable thing about the election is the debacle of the Social Democratic Party (ČSSD), which has received less than four percent of the vote and has for the first time failed to win any seats.
The overall assessment also depends on one’s point of view. On one hand, parties supporting a referendum on “Czexit” (or, even better: “Czech-Out”) have won only three out of 21 seats. On the other hand, parties supporting further EU integration have won only eight seats. Parties supporting the current Czech government managed to get seven seats, but due to the low turnout (28,7 %, which is the highest ever at EP elections in the Czech Republic) we must be careful in drawing conclusions from this result.”
Michal Hejl is a political and economic analyst at the Centre for Economic and Market Analyses (CETA) and works for the Institute of Social and Economic Research (ISER), a new independent political think tank based in Prague.
Wahlbeteiligung Europawahl 2019: 29 %
Sitze im Europäischen Parlament: 21 Sitze
- ANO (21,18 %): 6 Sitze (↑ 2)