Here’s Why Czech Election Results Demonstrate Protest Vote
AP Photo/ Petr David JosekOpinion05:36 23.10.2017(updated 12:29 23.10.2017) Get short URL187132
Experts explain why the victory of the centrist ANO movement in the Czech parliamentary election shows people using the vote as a means of protest.
MOSCOW (Sputnik) — The victory of the Czech centrist ANO movement, created five years ago by billionaire Andrej Babis, in the country’s parliamentary election was made possible because voters were voicing their protest against the previous government and its policies, experts told Sputnik.
Political scientist Stepan Kotrba called the results of the election “Snow White and the seven dwarfs.”
“Except that eventually there are eight dwarfs. It was the defeat of the ‘traditional’ left-wing parties – the Social Democrats and the Communists, and the victory of those that were campaigning openly and happily, with the support of the people – it is the ANO movement and the Pirate Party. It is the Civic Democratic Party [ODS]. It is the defeat of everyone else,” Kotrba told Sputnik.
The victory of ANO signifies that there are strong protest movements in Czech society, Mikhail Vedernikov of the Center for Vysegrad Studies of the Institute of Europe of the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAN) agreed.
“People see the previous governments as the reason behind the existing crises. A vote for Babis is a protest vote, but the party of Babis is first of all a populist party. It has no ideological basis, it gathers the protest electorate around itself,” Vedernikov explained.
However, Radmila Zemanova-Kopecka, the director of the Institute for Slavic Strategic Studies (ISSTRAS), opposes this view, noting the low turnout (around 61 percent, according to the country’s Statistical Office) and the high number of parties taking part in the election – for the first time in the history of the Czech Republic, 11 parties were running to get into the parliament.
“The votes were distributed among such a number of parties that it will bring no good to either these parties or the Czech Republic itself,” she stated.
The question of the structure of the future opposition remains open. The experts agree that trying to predict the composition of the new government is pointless.
“They usually say that only God knows the answer to this question. I’m afraid, however, that in this case even he does not know it,” Zemanova-Kopecka said.
Kotrba echoed that “anyone at all or no one at all” could join Babis in the government.
“All variants are possible, only the variant with the dwarfs rebelling against Snow White is unlikely… ANO is a universal party, a centrist one. Just like Snow White, it can choose among its dwarfs,” he explained.
RELATIONS WITH RUSSIA
“They used to say he [Babis] was pro-Russian. But I am convinced there will be no changes in this issue [relations between Prague and Moscow], it was just a way to attract attention,” Vedernikov said.
Babis was noted for saying that Europe needed to review its policy toward Russia, but ANO’s election program clearly stated that relations with Moscow must be built based on Brussel’s position, Vedernikov explained.
“There will be no changes in favor of Russia,” the expert stressed.
Kotrba agrees that no changes should be expected, but blames it on Moscow.
“I’ll put it to you straight: the Russian policy in the Czech Republic is just as clumsy and stupid as it used to be in Soviet times, under [former Soviet leader Leonid] Brezhnev. Russia does not want to have an independent partner for productive dialogue, it wants an obedient and dependent periphery. It’s bad. And it will not happen,” Kotrba stated.
Nevertheless, according to Zemanova-Kopecka, there is a hope for future convergence between Moscow and Prague under Czech President Milos Zeman and Prime Minister Babis.
Zeman stated earlier in the day that he was ready to appoint Babis as the prime minister.
However, Zemanova-Kopecka stated that the positive changes would not begin overnight.
“Electing the prime minister does not mean forming the government. Clearly we will have to wait for that moment before we can discuss improving relations with Russia,” she said.
The reason, according to Zemanova-Kopecka, is that the majority of parties that made it into the parliament “with an insignificant number of votes but in a significant number,” such as the Christian Democratic Party or the TOP 09 movement and the Pirate Party, are anti-Russian.
“If they unite, we can simply forget about normal relations with Russia,” the expert concluded.
According to the final results of the two-day vote, held on October 20-21, ANO was supported by 29.64 percent of the voters. The Civic Democratic Party (ODS) came second with 11.32 percent of the votes, followed by the Czech Pirate Party with 10.79 percent and Freedom and Direct Democracy movement with 10.64 percent of votes.
The other five parties, each gaining less than 8 percent of the votes, are the Communists, the Social Democratic Party, and the Christian Democratic Party, as well as the TOP 09 movement and the Mayors and Independents party.