Eurosceptics sweep Czech EP elections

Eurosceptics sweep Czech EP elections
Andrej Babis' ANO will have seven seats, SPOLU will have six. / bne IntelliNews
By Albin Sybera June 10, 2024

Czechia is sending mostly Eurosceptic or even Czexit supporters as their representatives to the European Parliament in a disastrous result for the ruling centre-right government. 

The populist Eurosceptic ANO party of billionaire Andrej Babis came first with 26.14%,  ahead of the ruling SPOLU coalition list with 22.27%. ANO will have seven seats, SPOLU will have six, three of which are Eurosceptic members of the ruling rightwing ODS party.

The voter turnout was 36.45%, the Czech Statistical Office reported. 

The biggest surprise of the night was the strong result for two anti-system coalitions of the far right and far left, who have converged in the views.

The joint list of Motorists and the far-right-leaning Prisaha [The Pledge] is sending two MEPs, including its leader Filip Turek, a former seller of dubious homemade products against COVID-19, whose campaign against the Green Deal was marred by the reports of his home collections of neo-Nazi and fascist items.

The joint list of the Czech Communist Party and hard nationalist parties STACILO! [It was enough!] will also send two deputies, including sitting veteran MEP Katerina Konecna and anti-COVID-19 measures lawyer Ondrej Dostal, who campaigned for keeping the Czech currency and against the EU’s migration pact.

Tomio Okamura's far-right and anti-EU SPD,  which formed a joint list with the nationalist far-right Tricolour, will have just one representative, former Social Democrat Ivan David. 

The only two fully pro-EU lists in the mix – the Czech Pirate Party and the Mayors and Independents (STAN) – will combine for a mere three MEPs, which is especially painful for the socially liberal Pirate Party, whose MEPs shrank from three to a lone MEP, Marketa Gregorova.

STAN’s leader and former presidential candidate Danuse Nerudova might have to forget about the EC commissioner job after the party's disappointing performance.

The result comes as a warning to the centre-right five-party coalition of Prime Minister Petr Fiala, whose government is one of the least popular in Czechia’s history.

ANO outperforms SPOLU by more than double in the national polls, with its popularity regularly projected above 30%. National elections are scheduled for autumn next year. 

ANO’s candidate list was led by former minister Klara Dostalova, who replaced outgoing pro-EU MEP Dita Charanzova, marking ANO’s clear turn into Eurosceptic waters on a campaign against the Green Deal and EU’s anti-migration pact.

Only Ondrej Kovarik, Charanzova’s aide is left of ANO’s pro-EU strand, while most of the other six ANO’s MEPs campaigned to keep the Czech currency, which the country agreed to replace with the euro back in 2004 when it joined the EU. Former manager of the Agrofert conglomerate, Jana Nagyova, known from the trial with Andrej Babis, in which both were acquitted of EU funds embezzlement, will also be one of ANO’s seven MEPs.

The ruling SPOLU list, comprised of the neoliberal ODS, liberal-conservative TOP 09 and Christian Democratic KDU-CSL,  will send six MEPs, but only two – TOP 09’s Ludek Niedermayer and Ondrej Kolar – are clearly pro-EU politicians.

The SPOLU leader, Eurosceptic and fierce Green Deal opponent Alexandr Vondra, his ex-partner and MEP Veronika Vrecionova and his aide Ondrej Krutilek, will also be joined by Christian Democratic MEP Tomas Zdechovsky, known for his scandal with undeclared visits to Bahrain.