Credit: Freepik

ANO Wins European Elections Ahead of Governing Spolu Coalition

The opposition ANO movement has again won the European elections in the Czech Republic, ahead of the governing Spolu coalition of the Civic Democrats (ODS), Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL) and TOP 09, according to the official results released by the Czech Statistical Office (CSU) late lasts night.

ANO won seven seats in the European Parliament (EP), one more than five years ago, while Spolu will have six MEPs, two fewer than before.

Third place went to the coalition of the extra-parliamentary party Prisaha (‘The Oath’) and the single-issue Motorists party, which won two seats in its first time participating in the European elections. The same number of MEPs went to Stacilo! coalition, led by the Communists (KSCM), and the Mayors and Independents (STAN), which will have one more seat than after the previous EP elections in 2019. The Pirates will have only one MEP instead of the current three. Similarly, the far-right coalition of Freedom and Direct Democracy (SPD) and the extra-parliamentary Tricolour will also have only one MEP, despite defending two seats.

Around 36.45% of those eligible voted in the election, the highest turnout since the Czech Republic joined the European Union in 2004. Five years ago, 28.72% voted in the EP elections in the Czech Republic.

In all Czech regions, voter turnout was higher than 30%. The highest turnout was in Prague (42.58%), and the lowest was in Karlovy Vary (30.21%).

The elections were a vote against the government and the cabinet of Petr Fiala (ODS), according to political analysts who spoke to CTK.

The third place finish was a surprise for Prisaha and the Motorists, with more than 10% of the vote and two seats. Fourth place went to the Stacilo! group, led by Communist chairwoman Katerina Konecna. It also won almost one-tenth of the votes and two mandates. The opposition Freedom and Direct Democracy (SPD), on the other hand, had a surprisingly weak result. Political analysts say people may be tired of this party.

ANO won over 26% of the vote and seven seats, while Spolu got around 22% and six seats. The Mayors (STAN) and the Pirates, who are also part of the cabinet, won three seats combined, leaving the ruling parties with nine MEPs. The remaining opposition parties have five seats, so together with ANO they will occupy 12 seats in the European Parliament.

“The leitmotif of the elections is the overwhelming defeat of the government. It shows that dissatisfaction with the government is strong,” said political scientist Pavel Saradin of Palacky University in Olomouc.

Greater support for anti-government parties is linked to the record-high voter turnout, according to political scientist Ladislav Mrklas of Prague’s CEVRO University. “The higher the turnout, the more the opposition, of whatever type, will gain,” Mrklas said.

“The realignment on the opposition side is quite large,” he continued. “Firstly, Prisaha and the Motorists and actually also the Stacilo! grouping, i.e. basically the Communists, exceeded the expectations of most analysts and polls. And on the other hand, the SPD can be very happy that they got in. In addition, Petr Mach failed because of preferential votes,” Mrklas said.

Former MEP Mach (SPD), who used to lead Svobodni, was the leader of the SPD’s European list of candidates with Tricolour. He did not make it back into the European Parliament; thanks to preferential votes, the SPD’s current MEP Ivan David won the only seat.

SPD and Tricolour narrowly exceeded the 5% threshold to enter the European Parliament and won one seat. “It shows that the SPD is already considered almost a party of the establishment. It has been in politics for a long time and has de facto achieved nothing in that time. And the SPD fatigue may have helped Stacilo! and the Motorists,” Saradin said.

According to Mrklas, the fight between the opposition parties can be expected to intensify.

Mrklas did not think the weak result for SPD would threaten Tomio Okamura’s position as the party leader. “It is rather a warning against experimenting with someone like Petr Mach, who does not belong to the party and was previously associated with someone else. It turns out that SPD is simply a one-man party – where there is no Okamura, there is no one,” he added.

“The result for Spolu is probably the maximum possible in a situation where it is the main government group, in the situation of an unpopular government, after the energy crisis, and with only a slowly growing economy,” said political scientist Lubomir Kopecek of Masaryk University in Brno.

Kopecek said the competition between the opposition parties had taken votes away from ANO.

“Obviously, ANO competed for many voters with smaller radical entities, and the success of Prisaha and Motorists and Stacilo!, which were led by someone who was highly visible in the media, obviously influenced ANO’s minor success. Similarly to ANO, also SPD had a lot of personal and thematic competition from Eurosceptic parties, which almost sent the party out of the European Parliament,” he said.

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