The Czech Republic held parliamentary elections last weekend. Members of our DiEM25 local group (DSC) in České Budějovice recommended a vote for the Greens and Pirates, because these parties have been broadly supportive of DiEM25’s programme and activities in the Czech Republic for a long time (the Pirates signed on to DiEM25’s manifesto soon after our inception in February 2016).
So how did they do? Well, the Pirate Party achieved significant success with almost 11% of the vote. Two DiEM25 members — Mikuláš Peksa and Ondřej Profant — were elected to Parliament! We congratulate them, as well as our friends from the Pirate Party, for their success.
Unfortunately, our friends from the Greens did not get elected — we hope that this failure does not discourage them from their vital work!
But now the bad news: despite these gains, the election brought to power the movement (ANO) of the populist billionaire Andrej Babiš (think a Czech version of Trump with some elements of Berlusconi), with almost 30% of the vote. Babiš wants to “manage the state as a business”; he claims he is pro-European, but is accused, along with others from the movement, of misusing European subsidies. His movement exploited voters’ disillusionment with politicians, and successfully portrayed itself as ‘anti-systemic’ (although it was for four years in government itself).
As members of DSC Česke Budějovice, we distance ourselves from the misuse of politics, parliamentary immunity and the influence of these people in politics and state positions. It is in the public interest that people who have been prosecuted should not be involved in politics. We call on the President of the Czech Republic, Milos Zeman, not to name the accused Andrej Babiš as Prime Minister.
Babiš’ gains were not the only alarming result of the election. The anti-European neoliberal Civic Democratic Party (ODS) and similarly neoliberally-minded but “two-speed” party TOP-09 also made it to the Chamber. Echoing far-right gains in France and other countries, the highly anti-European, anti-Muslim and anti-refugee party SPD got almost 11% of the vote, using fear of migrants (who practically don’t exist in the Czech Republic). A big danger is the possible link-up of ANO and the fascist SPD movement, which would pave the way towards an illiberal and anti-social future for our country.
So in conclusion: the political scene in the Czech Republic has shifted strongly to the right, mainly due to the election of right-wing populist parties. The traditional left has completely failed, and the socially-oriented green politics did not gain any space.
For members and supporters of DiEM25 in the Czech Republic, this situation means there is the opportunity to continue working with the Pirates (whom we recommend remain in opposition) to try to promote the issues that are part of the DiEM25 core platform, like our Manifesto and European New Deal. And we must continue to expand our activities in all possible ways to disseminate the ideas of DiEM25 in the Czech Republic.
Written by Antonin Hořčica and other members of DSC Česke Budějovice
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