What do the Czech election results mean for Europe?

Four days after the parliamentary elections it is still not clear who will form the next government in Prague. The Spolu alliance emerged as the strongest force, but President Miloš Zeman, who would normally instruct the leader of the winning party to form a new government, is still in hospital. The narrow defeat of Prime Minister Andrej Babiš's Ano party will nonetheless have consequences - also for Europe, according to commentators.

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Denik (CZ) /

Free from conflicting interests

Deník looks forward to positive side effects in the wake of the prime minister's being voted out of office:

“Because of Babiš's huge conflict of interest with the EU, the Czech Republic was in danger of drifting in the direction of crisis countries like Hungary and Poland. ... The elections have solved the Babiš problem. And the Czech Republic will finally be able to tackle the real problems facing the state. Many issues have dragged on for a long time without solutions because we've mainly been focused on the problems of the prime minister. We have some catching up to do.”

Pravda (SK) /

Don't rejoice too soon

You can win an election with anti-Babiš slogans, but governing will be much more difficult, Pravda warns:

“Things in the Czech Republic could easily turn out the way they did in Slovakia exactly ten years ago, with the government of Iveta Radičová [prime minister from 2010 to 2012]. There, rejoicing at the victory was replaced by permanent disputes. In the end Robert Fico formed a government once again. A new wave of pandemics, disputes over funding from the economic stimulus programme, rising prices and reforms with a negative social impact could catapult Babiš back to the throne in the Czech Republic. The return of a politician who had already been written off would not be a novelty in Europe.”

The Spectator (GB) /

Brussels will be happy

The election outcome in the Czech Republic puts a damper on anti-EU sentiment in Eastern Europe, The Spectator concludes:

“The accession of a pro-EU government in the Czech Republic certainly makes it much more difficult for leaders in Hungary and Poland to claim a regional sense of opposition to the EU. ... For now, Brussels will be pleased with the outcome of the Czech election. ... Will the Czech election start a new era in relations with the Visegrád Four? Don't bet on it. But this result certainly marks a blow to the idea that a tide of euroscepticism that started with Brexit is sweeping across the continent.”

Jutarnji list (HR) /

Political instability hampers EU

What is currently happening in the Czech Republic, Austria and elsewhere could limit the EU's ability to act, Jutarnji list counters:

“With ever greater political instability in many member states, there will be little progress on a number of issues. Because, with all due respect to the institutions in Brussels, in the end the EU is only what the member states want it to be. And they have too many different wishes, points of view, fears, interests, priorities and plans to be able to agree on such important issues. ... Although election cycles are a normal occurrence, the current changes and political crises in the EU will leave their mark. ... This is already happening in the European Parliament and the Council of Europe, and it means that the EU will not be in a position to make historic decisions.”

The Irish Times (IE) /

Another blow for the centre right in Europe

The centre right has lost influence, and not only in the Czech Republic, The Irish Times comments:

“In Germany, in its worst election result ever, it lost power after 16 years in charge. In France, where five of the eight Fifth Republic presidents since 1958 have been conservatives, the traditional centre-right has not won any national elections since 2007. In Italy, Christian Democrats co-governed for nearly half a century after the war, but over the past two decades the right has increasingly radicalised and fragmented. ... But populists are not having it all their own way. The wave, lifted though not created by Donald Trump’s 2016 election in the United States, has lost momentum of late.”

Mladá fronta dnes (CZ) /

Our democracy works

Mladá fronta dnes is highly satisfied with the election outcome:

“The election is behind us and with it, perhaps, the sometimes hysterical clamour about the end of liberal democracy in the Czech Republic. Nothing of the sort happened; ours is not an authoritarian regime. The political pendulum has worked again, this time swinging to the advantage of the forces that had to leave the government eight years ago. Perhaps this will be a lesson for voters that our democracy is not so fragile and often works better than elsewhere.”

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (DE) /

Political paralysis looming

Despite the opposition's victory, the situation is far from clear, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung points out:

“President Miloš Zeman has the right to task Babiš with forming a government and to give him all the time in the world to do so. Zeman has already shown more than once that he is prepared to do this. Thus, despite their clear vote, it is likely that the Czechs will experience a period of political paralysis in the coming months: with a parliamentary majority that is not allowed to govern, a prime minister who must fear the loss of power because of his dubious dealings ... , and a president who is so seriously ill that it is unclear how capable of acting he really is.”

Denník N (SK) /

Encouraging for Poland and Hungary

The election results in the Czech Republic should be an incentive for the opposition in Warsaw and Budapest, says Denník N:

“At a time when Central Europe is experiencing the greatest crisis of democracy since the fall of the communist regime, the results of the Czech elections are highly significant. ... Prime Minister Andrej Babiš, who had counted on Viktor Orbán's support, lost. At the same time the Czech elections could encourage the democratic opposition in Poland and Hungary. They could take a cue from the Czech strategy of forming coalitions before elections to defeat the populist leader.”

Denik (CZ) /

The end of the die-hard communists

The Czech Communists, for the first time, failed to make it past the five-per cent hurdle for parliamentary representation. Deník is jubilant:

“It's late, but it's coming: the end of the Communists in the Czech Republic. ... They represented the interests of Russia and China and called for withdrawal from NATO and the EU. In other words, for the loss of security and economic success for the republic. They appeared on television posing as prudent uncles and aunts and evoked Stalin's spirit at meetings. A deep bow to the voters who rejected them.”