The two largest parties in the Czech Republic, Prime Minister Andrej Babiš’s ANO (ALDE) and the Civic Democratic Party (ODS, ECR), have found common ground in their vision for the EU future: a stronger nation. EURACTIV Czech Republic reports.
All nine parliamentary parties are running in the EU elections. ANO is expected to win, followed by Civic Democratic Party and Pirates (currently not represented in the EU Parliament).
Two parliamentary parties, the TOP 09 and Mayors and Independents, have created a pro-European coalition together with smaller regional groupings and the Green party, which is not very popular in the Czech Republic.
On the opposite side of the spectrum is the far-right Freedom and Direct Democracy Party.
Beyond the parliamentary parties, there are also two new political movements established by two MEPs: Hlas founded by EU Parliament vice-president Pavel Telička (ALDE) and EPP lawmaker Jaromir Stetina’s Europe together.
Confusing political messages
The Czech prime minister often says the EU is a great project; however, this is not reflected in his party’s campaign.
The slogan “We will protect Czechia with strength and without compromise” is closer to a nationalist party’s rhetoric than a centrist’s one.
When it comes to ANO’s election programme itself, the protection against illegal migration, the fight against mandatory refugee quotas and the reinforcement of EU external borders are undoubtedly prioritised.
In their campaigns, both ANO and ODS emphasise that voice of the nations should be stronger in the EU and all parties are pushing for a “better Europe”, though without having a concrete plan.
A few days before the election, there is still heated debate over the dual quality of food sold in Western and Eastern Europe. This topic became useful for the governing party’s campaign although it was the social democrats who unveiled it.
Babiš’s view of the EU’s future is considerably different from that of ALDE’s leader, Guy Verhofstadt. However, it is expected that ANO will remain an ally of the liberal family, while the unaffiliated Pirates are eyeing the Greens.
ODS will remain one of the building blocks of the reformists and conservatives, as well as Pro-European alliance TOP 09 and STAN in the EPP. On the other hand, the Freedom and Direct Democracy party will join Salvini or Le Pen’s far-right movement.
Babiš is one of the EU leaders who don’t support the Spitzenkandidaten process, whereby the new Commission chief is chosen from among the lead candidates nominated by political groups, rather than member states.
He recently said the future EU Commission president should actually be chosen by the nominated Commissioners.
As for the next Czech Commissioner, although Babiš has not clearly confirmed it yet, it is possible that Commissioner Věra Jourová will continue in her current role as EU justice chief.
>Read also: EU country briefing: Czech Republic
[Edited by Sarantis Michalopoulos / Zoran Radosavljevic]