Sunday, 22 July 2018

Právo: Elections will indicate Prague's further policy within EU

31 August 2017

Prague, Aug 30 (CTK) - The Czech October 20-21 general election outcome will indicate whether the Czechs will seek to join the EU hard core, which makes the election probably the most important in the country's post-communist history, Milos Balaban writes in daily Pravo on Wednesday.

Andrej Babis's ANO is expected to win the election, but nothing can be considered certain in politics, as the past year on the world scene has shown, Balaban writes, mentioning foreign politicians who unexpectedly suffered election defeats such as Hillary Clinton in the USA, Francois Fillon and Marine Le Pen in France and Geert Wilders in the Netherlands, and also the "non-victory suffered by Britain's self-confident PM Theresa May."

As a result of political mistakes, incredibility, past sins, democratic-minded voters' self-preservation instinct and also extraordinary events closely preceding elections, voters in these countries finally decided differently from what had been widely expected, Balaban writes.

The above factors may influence the upcoming Czech elections as well. A role may be played not only by the Capi hnizdo (Stork Nest) scandal around a suspected subsidy fraud involving companies of Babis, a billionaire, but also voters' fear of the emergence of a corporatist state with a single strong leader at the head, Balaban writes.

The example of Poland, which has taken this path and is going astray from the European mainstream has a deterrent effect on many voters, Balaban writes.

In any case, the Czech Republic will need a trustworthy and stable new government, otherwise it could hardly react to the accelerating European integration process, Balaban writes.

In Germany, which is a European exception with its political stability almost ruling out any election surprise, Angela Merkel will probably continue in the post of chancellor. She has a chance of catching up with Helmut Kohl's record-long period in office and, like Kohl, she might achieve a breakthrough in Europe's development, Balaban writes.

Germany, in tandem with France of President Emmanuel Macron, can be expected to end its so far restrained position on Europe's further integration. Proposals for the establishment of a bank union and the post of a common finance minister may appear on the agenda of the euro zone members, which would be a strong signal about a nascent EU core, Balaban writes.

If so, countries outside the euro zone would obviously start to be ousted to the margin of the EU, he writes.

Czech PM Bohuslav Sobotka's effort to secure Prague's presence at the core's formation as an observer at least is understandable. Nevertheless, the burden of the decision on the Czech adoption of the euro is up to the next government, Balaban writes.

He mentions "a noteworthy statement" by Slovak PM Robert Fico, who said that the Czech Republic meets all criteria of euro zone entry now. Between the lines, he evidently asked the Czechs what they are still waiting for, Balaban writes.

The EU core will have a decisive say on close integration projects in the areas of defence, security and foreign policy. Europe has also been more and more forced into it by the geopolitical development, Balaban writes, referring to the declining global influence of the USA, increasingly evident under President Donald Trump, and the growing global influence of China.

Where the Czech Republic will end? The October elections will indicate its further path, which makes them extremely important for Czechs, Balaban writes.

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