Czech opposition adopts EU discourse in upcoming elections

european_flag1.jpg [Reuters]

‘We are all Europeans’ is the gist of the campaign manifesto published by the main oppsition Czech political parties for the upcoming European elections in June. Adopting the euro, ratifying the Lisbon Treaty, energy security and tackling of the economic crisis feature highly among the issues candidates will address in their campaign. EURACTIV Czech Republic reports.

The two parties with the most popular support have recently launched their EU election campaigns by stressing European messages. The Social Democrats (CSSD) and the Communists (KSCM), both in opposition, published manifestos on the Internet addressing not just domestic but also European issues. 

The governing right-wing Civic Democratic Party (ODS) instead continues to lead a negative campaign emphasising the failures and the “ridiculous” proposals made by the opposition CSSD. 

However, CSSD chairman Ji?i Paroubek argued that ODS has consistently been making a name for itself across the EU ever since the Czech EU Presidency began. 

The manifesto of the Social Democrats, under the title ‘Jistota’ (‘Security’ or ‘Guarantee’) stresses social security, the European welfare state and economic growth, and is directly in line with the manifesto of the Party of European Socialists (PES). 

Like the European Socialists, it aims to show that the current economic crisis was brought about by neo-liberal policies. CSSD stressed that the crisis cannot be solved without close coordination between member states and pledged to work together with sister parties from within the PES. 

Among CSSD’s top priorities are completing the Lisbon Treaty ratification process, preparing to adopt the euro and setting a date for accession in the eurozone. 

In its manifesto CSSD violently opposes “neo-liberalist experiments” in the field of economy performed by the ODS-led government. 

The Czech Communists likewise oppose the neo-liberal trends taking that have destroyed the world economy, as well as inequality among member states. 

Their top priority is ‘Europe without barriers’, which replicates the motto of the Czech EU Presidency (see EURACTIV LinksDossier). Unlike the Social Democratic party, the Communists avoid the issues of Lisbon Treaty ratification and euro adoption. Moreover, they are strongly opposed to cooperation with NATO and the US and also to the deployment of army units on missions abroad. 

The party that addresses EU topics the most, however, the newly-founded European Democratic Party (EDS) under the leadership of former diplomat Jana Hybaskova. 

EDS stressed it did not want to exceed its potential as it seeks to position itself as an alternative to the growing number of right-wing nationalist and eurosceptic parties in the Czech Republic and elsewhere. Nonetheless, its programme is diverse, and aims to open a debate on European integration, fighting nationalism and protectionism in the European context, pushing for the adoption of the euro and establishing a common energy policy. EDS addresses the current economic crisis too. 

The Christian Democrats (KDU), who have long been losing support at home, do not herald a change. In their campaign, they point out past achievements, such as the steady effort of MEP Zuzana Roithova to protect the rights of European consumers. KDU is coordinating its efforts with the European People’s Party (EPP) by means of campaign managers’ meetings. It has identified making the EU more competitive as its top priority. 

Petr Mach’s eurosceptic Party of Free Citizens (SSO) is one of the few parties that oppose the Lisbon Treaty, and calls for the crisis to be solved by individual governments rather than via a coordinated EU approach. According to Mach, SSO would be the only true opposition party in the European Parliament. 

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