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Czech Republic: a weakening of the Western democratic model?

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The Czech Republic has recently undergone profound changes, namely with the rise of Euroscepticism. Is it simply a phase of conjuncture or the manifestation of a profound change in mentality? Here is the perspective on the situation of two Czech students – Simon Trantina, studying in Prague, and Alexandra Simaiova, studying in France.
Source: Prague-7455.jpg

European Union and Czech Republic: an imminent divorce

Simon Trantina | translated by: Kummer Livia | 2018. May 02. 00:00

Has the Czech Republic recently experienced a decline in the Western model? The Czech Republic has always been seen as a bridge between Eastern and Western Europe. Thus, all Czechs are very attached to the notion of Central Europe in order to highlight this intermediary role. In the twentieth century, this small country of 11 million inhabitants was more or less voluntarily directed towards the East because of the rise of communism and the Soviet occupation in the country. However, after the 1989 Revolution, the Czech Republic, liberated from totalitarianism, accepted Western liberal values that are now in danger for numerous reasons.

Some hostility towards the European Union has been setting in. A recent survey suggests that only 37% of Czechs trust the EU, whereas five years ago, this figure was between 50 – 60%. Yes, it's true that we cannot really trust survey percentages. On the other hand, such change cannot be neglected either. Moreover, it is very easy to observe the development of this data on the graphs from recent years as well as in the attitude of the Czech population towards the European Union.

*Potential Czexit ?

The European Union represents the Western model - it can be seen as a platform linking Western, Eastern and Central countries to each other. The Czech Republic forms a bridge with the Western world through numerous pacts, agreements, treaties, etc. Although it seems obvious that with the departure of the Czech Republic from the European Union the country would lose all the advantages of its membership in the EU in many areas, as well as its good relations with Western Europe, the Czech nation still tends to demand the "Czexit". Why?
There are many reasons which explain this recent phenomenon. Firstly, there is a direct accusation of the European Union: for example, we are talking about the euro zone debt crisis. It is, however, very likely that the major problems are related not so much to the shortcomings of the European Union, but their origin is rather in the mentality of a part of the Czech population.

Moreover, this part of the Czech citizens has been growing rapidly, especially in recent months with the approach of the parliamentary elections, raising the issue of remaining in the EU, which was one of the most frequent themes of political parties’ programs.
But why is it so? The most visible culprits are the populist politicians who have accused the European Union of being responsible for the migration crisis, and blamed the Europe.
Whether the quotas are the ideal solution or not is another question. On the other hand, it is undeniable that the populist politicians have abused the situation to find a culprit and have enjoyed the trust of voters.

*Euroscepticism maintained by politicians

The rise of Euroscepticism in the Czech Republic began during the second half of the presidential term of President Václav Klaus, who held the position between the years 2003 and 2013. He did not agree with the new proposals and European pacts and his policy is therefore at the origin of the initial euro-skepticism. After the beginning of the migration crisis, the Czech Republic has experienced a rapid rise in the number of populists following this direction. The funny thing is that when you look at the statistics, especially at the financial statistics of the Czech Republic in the European Union, you can clearly see that it has been collecting a lot more money from the European budget than it has been spending, notably thanks to endowments.

The rise of Euroscepticism in the Czech Republic began during the second half of the presidential term of President Václav Klaus, who held the position between the years 2003 and 2013. He did not agree with the new proposals and European pacts and his policy is therefore at the origin of the initial euro-skepticism. After the beginning of the migration crisis, the Czech Republic has experienced a rapid rise in the number of populists following this direction.
The funny thing is that when you look at the statistics, especially at the financial statistics of the Czech Republic in the European Union, you can clearly see that it has been collecting a lot more money from the European budget than it has been spending, notably thanks to endowments.

*The benefactor role of the European Union ignored

Thus, the Czech government becomes more and more critical about the innovations of the European Union. If we add the non-compliance with the migration quotas and the arrogant and contemptuous attitude of our politicians, we can be grateful that the European Union has not sanctioned us yet. What is paradoxical is the strict refusal of the migrant quotas. To this day the Czech Republic has only accepted 12 migrants and has encouraged the migration of some of these towards the West because of the more favorable economic conditions in the countries like Germany, France or the United Kingdom. In addition, the majority of Czechs tend to forget all the advantages that our membership in the European Union offers, such as the free circulation of goods and people ensuring the attractiveness of the country in economic and touristic terms, bringing prosperity to the State, the great endowments, etc. Unfortunately, the populists have managed to divert the situation and to make people forget all the good things that the EU offers. They have also managed to exploit small disadvantages to win votes. It can therefore be said that the Czech Republic is experiencing a decline in the Western model, and particularly in the values supported by the European Union.

Finally, I would like to point out that the party "Freedom and direct democracy" – the anti-European and anti-migrant party, obtained only 10% of votes in the parliamentary elections.

The Czech Republic and the European Union: a lasting friendship

Alexandra Simaiova | translated by: Kummer Livia | 2018. May 02. 00:00

The Czech Republic is a very small country that has a very rewarding nickname: "the heart of Europe". It is a warm compliment but it is also a sacred responsibility. Have you ever seen a living being without their heart? It is suddenly clearer then in order to work, Europe needs the Czech Republic. This explains the kindness with which the European Union treats this country. Has the Czech Republic recently experienced a decline in the Western model? Of course not, she has no reason to do so.

*Misleading polls

It is true that only 37% of Czechs find that the Czech Republic's commitment to the European Union has a positive effect on the country. It does not mean though, that the remaining 63% are hostile to it. On the contrary, a large part of the respondents (45%) declares itself neutral in its position towards the European Union. In the end, it is not the people that are moving away from Western values, but they simply cannot find themselves in all that is going on in Europe nowadays – migration crises, Brexit? It is quite possible to regain the confidence of the inhabitants by emphasizing the contributions of the European Union. For example, by recalling that in 10 years of commitment (2014 data) the Czech Republic was allotted almost 1.3 billion euros with which it was able to repair 2,000 km of infrastructure, create 72,000 new jobs, etc. It is important to remember that this survey was (Eurobarometer) consulted between 500 and 1500 inhabitants only, which makes the results less credible.

*Very active participation

In order to repay at least part of the sum given to the Czech Republic, the Prime Minister (Social Democrat) encourages the country's participation in numerous European projects. For example, Czech researchers are working on the minimization of the risks in nuclear power plants as part of a European project. With regard to the migration crisis, the Prime Minister has shown his willingness to contribute financially to the formation of the Libyan maritime guard in order to prevent the flow of migration from this African country.

This is a proof of the Czech Republic's willingness to invest in the European management of the migration crisis, even though the country has never experienced a large migratory flow on its territory.

*Young people on the front stage

Speaking of the migratory crisis, the rare passages of refugees in our small country have always been accompanied by acts of solidarity from student solidarity movements, in which it is difficult to find Eurosceptics. Thus, the refugees are aware of the advantages that the European Union brings them. It is for example the possibility to travel freely in Europe, the fact that the EU provides the means to carry out their projects (European endowments planned for this purpose) or the possibility to participate in European educational programs as access to education abroad is easier within the framework of the European programs (Erasmus). More and more young people are affected by this European action, but it is the young generation that is not of age yet: so they cannot express themselves in elections or polls yet, "as adults". If there is a decline in the percentages, it will surely be catch up again soon by the new generation stimulated by European action.

*A secure European future…

... At least for the next four years. Because of the legislative elections that took place last weekend and brought 30% of the vote to the party - ANO ("Yes" in Czech) led by billionaire Andrej Babiš who announced in his post-victory speech that despite the rumors his party is pro-European and he denies any desire to leave the European Union. We can be reassured, because the leader of the party has already discovered the virtues of the European Union. A police investigation was conducted on the violation of European endowments by his company.

This article convinced me.

This article deliberately presents only one of the many existing points of views of this contorversial subject. Its content is not necessarily representative of its author's personal opinion. Please have a look at Duel Amical's philosophy.

This article convinced me.

This article deliberately presents only one of the many existing points of views of this contorversial subject. Its content is not necessarily representative of its author's personal opinion. Please have a look at Duel Amical's philosophy.

The state of votes

60%
40%

European Union and Czech Republic: an imminent divorce

Simon Trantina|translated by: Kummer Livia

The Czech Republic and the European Union: a lasting friendship

Alexandra Simaiova| translated by: Kummer Livia

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