Czech elections: a divided country?

Citizens of the Czech Republic will elect a new president in the second round of the presidential election this weekend. They have the choice between retired general and former Nato second-in-command Petr Pavel and former prime minister Andrej Babiš, who caused a furore during the election campaign when he questioned Czech solidarity in the framework of Nato collective defence. Commentators criticise the way the campaign was conducted.

Open/close all quotes (SK) /

Copying Trump's tactics

Babiš modelled his bad behaviour on the US, criticises Peter Bárdy, editor-in-chief of

“The tactics of Andrej Babiš have in many ways been similar to those used by the former US president, which built on radicalising society and seeking out enemies, as well as insults and attacks. He was advised to reach out and connect both far-right groups and radicalised individuals who were looking to add adventure or meaning to their lives and who were excited by the promises of an extremist ideology. Babiš has uncritically and opportunistically copied Trump in everything that could help him score political points.”

Hospodářské noviny (CZ) /

Opponents following a bad example

Hospodářské noviny, by contrast, says Babiš's critics have taken the wrong tone:

“Babiš is evil? An agent? Such harsh rhetoric has no place in a democratic society. In a democracy the goal must be to agree at least on elementary things, for example, that one can have a completely different opinion than one's opponents, but still respect them. Those who speak of him being evil or an agent exclude such respect and stigmatise not only the opponent but also his voters.”

Sme (SK) /

Open wounds

The mutual attacks in the campaign have poisoned social coexistence, guest commentator Jindřich Šidlo fears in Sme:

“When the dust settles after the battle, we will be left with a divided Czech Republic whose inhabitants have to go on living side by side. And I fear that after this election campaign, that will be somewhat more difficult than it was ten or five years ago. Clearly, one side is more to blame for this than the other. But the other has so far not shown the good will to try and fill all the trenches either.”