Saturday, 18 November 2017

HN: Czechs need fresh, charismatic politician helping build EU

ČTK |
26 April 2017

Prague, April 25 (CTK) - The Czech Republic needs a fresh, charismatic politician who would not only be haggling with the European Union, but who would want to participate in its building, Petr Honzejk writes in daily Hospodarske noviny (HN) on the French presidential election yesterday.

He writes that supporters of the winner of the first presidential election in France, centrist Emmanuel Macron, were waving EU flags in his election centre, while flags with a crossed EU symbol are often brandished at demonstrations in support of Czech President Milos Zeman.

Does this reflect a fundamental difference in the two societies' sentiment, or is this due to that a Macron-like political offer is missing in the Czech Republic? Honzejk asks.

He writes that Zeman and Macron symbolise two legitimate answers to the questions that the current reality asks politics. They concern globalisation, migration, the more and more self-confident Russia and China and others.

The major dividing political line no longer leads between the left and the right, but between openness and aloofness, between liberalism and a tendency towards authoritarian attitudes, Honzejk writes.

He writes that a year ago already, The Economist weekly wrote that pro-European global-minded leftist as well as rightist parties have now more in common with one another than with protectionist, identitarian parties, even though they formally stand on their sides of the traditional spectrum.

This is clear in France, where Marine Le Pen, a representative of the far right, agrees on many points, particularly the relationship to the EU, with the unsuccessful presidential candidate, Communist Jean-Luc Melanchon, Honzejk writes.

In the Czech Republic, opposition to the EU is shared by Communist Vojtech Filip and anti-immigrant populist Tomio Okamura, head of the Freedom and Direct Democracy opposition party, Honzejk writes.

However, there is a big difference between the situation of France and the Czech Republic. France has problems with minorities, it is threatened by terrorist attacks, yet the liberal, open stream represented by Macron is preferred as the first presidential election round showed, Honzejk writes.

The Czech Republic only profits from openness within the EU and its citizens only know migration from news, yet the national-conservative stream, represented by Zeman, prevails, Honzejk writes.

The rightist Civic Democratic Party (ODS), which was behind the post-communist economic transformation, now says the euro is evil and even Finance Minister and ANO head Andrej Babis, who has a part of his business in Germany, does not want the euro for political reasons, Honzejk writes.

He writes that even the Czech politicians who say they are pro-European, are only half pro-European at home, which is also true of the presidential candidate Jiri Drahos.

Honzejk writes that the Czech attitude to the European project reflects the fundamental imperative deposited in the Czech collective subconsciousness: it is better not to meddle in anything because the Czechs can change nothing anyway.

Most Czech politicians may believe that the key to success mainly lies in complying with this attitude, and that is why Czech politics is as it is, Honzejk writes.

But the task of politics is not only to copy voters' moods and sentiment, but to motivate people and to formulate and offer visions, just like Macron is doing, Honzejk writes.

True, it seems that there is no such demand, but this may only be due to the insufficient offer. Perhaps, if there were someone who would dare to offer this, they might succeed, Honzejk writes.

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