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MfD: Refugee crisis makes ODS-TOP09 alliance impossible

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Prague, Oct 3 (CTK) – The right-wing opposition Civic Democrats (ODS) and TOP 09 were considering forming alliances in the 2016 Czech regional elections and intensifying their cooperation, but the refugee crisis is an issue that strongly divides them, Lukas Jelinek writes in daily Pravo Saturday.

In 2014, the decision to start more cooperating seemed clear to understand: the new coalition government of Bohuslav Sobotka (Social Democrats, CSSD) was relatively popular and the centrist movement ANO of Finance Minister Andrej Babis was winning over the right wing’s traditional supporters, Jelinek writes.

Furthermore, the ODS and TOP 09 positions on foreign affairs got closer, given the separatist fight in eastern Ukraine, the Russian expansiveness and President Milos Zeman’s exhibitions abroad, Jelinek says, mentioning issues that both right-wing parties criticised.

However, now the ODS and TOP 09 only share the strong criticism of the electronic registration of sales, and even this may not be real cooperation because it is unclear whether the two parties are coordinating their steps or competing with one another, Jelinek writes.

Moreover, the attempt to block the parliament because of the electronic registration of sales may harm the right-wing parties. The public considers the effort to prevent tax evasion praiseworthy, and the paralysing of the parliament at the time of more serious issues, such as the migration crisis, may be considered very irresponsible, Jelinek writes.

Refugees are an issue on which TOP 09 and the ODS strongly disagree, he says.

The Civic Democrats blame the Czech government and the European Union, they would like to insist on the rejection of the mandatory refugee quotas despite the EU majority decision and take the issue to the European Court of Justice, they talk about a betrayal of national interests and about lying ministers, Jelinek writes.

Only populist Tomio Okamura is more radical in parliament, he says.

Compared with the Eurosceptic and isolationist ODS, TOP 09 is a moderate, internationalist and, on migration issues, even pro-government group. TOP 09 chairman Karel Schwarzenberg praised Sobotka and some of his ministers and now he merely warned them against too strong authoritarian-like rhetoric, Jelinek writes.

Though TOP 09 opposed the refugee quotas, it does not want to go against the EU agreement on them, especially as this would be pointless, in fact sharing the government’s position on the issue, Jelinek writes.

The right-wing voters can make the decision based on clear differences between the two parties, he says.

At present, the ODS seems slightly more popular than TOP 09, with nearly 10 percent of supporters, Jelinek writes.

The ODS may profit from the migration wave, while TOP 09 gains points with every scandal of its arch-rival Babis, he says.

Yet, it appears that it would be somebody else who would profit from the fight between the ODS and TOP 09 – probably ANO.

ANO has big internal problems and not all its ministers share Babis’s opinions on migration, but the party is in power, it controls the economy and its leader is a skilful propagandist, Jelinek writes.

The ODS led by Petr Fiala, whose radical positions are apparently not spontaneous, and TOP 09, with controversial politicians replacing the outgoing elderly Schwarzenberg, may end up as only marginal political groups, he says.

This downfall was hardly expected 30 months ago when the two parties still ruled the country together. Despite all the differences, the ODS and TOP 09 have one thing in common: people have lost trust in them, Jelinek writes.

With such a burden, it is hard to prosper, he concludes.

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