A Czech perspective on the battle for the White House

John Kerry and George Bush, photo: CTK

The presidential elections in the United States have been filling the Czech papers for weeks, with speculation over who has the greater chance of winning, and what the outcome might mean for the United States' relationship to the Czech Republic and to Europe in general. In this country opinion seems as deeply divided as in the US itself, and for Czechs this is one of the most closely observed foreign elections ever. Martin Mikule spoke to political analyst from Prague's Charles University Borivoj Hnizdo.

George Bush,  photo: CTK
"Surely it is possible to say that as well as in the United States Europeans are watching the elections maybe even more than in the previous years or decades."

Are the Czechs more Republicans or Democrats? Who do you think they would vote for?

"It's difficult to say. I think that this division - which is a bit visible in all European countries - it's a bit cliché to say that the Democrat candidate is more for better cooperation with Europe and the Republican candidate is not so Europe-friendly. I think it's very difficult to say. Especially regarding American foreign policy I think the division of the two candidates is not as deep and clear as many Europeans think."

How about the perception of George Bush and his policy in different countries in Europe? Do you think there is still the same kind of division that there was in the beginning of the war in Iraq; when e.g. France and Germany opposed George Bush whereas some countries actually supported him?

John Kerry,  photo: CTK
"I think that this division, if you like that word, is still here but nobody likes to speak loudly about it. Regarding the Czech point of view, the Czech foreign policy was in a way neutral between these two camps which were very visible at the time of the American action in Iraq. Czechs were in the same position as maybe the Netherlands, in some way as Greece. They wanted to avoid being in one or the other camp."

How is the result of American elections going to affect the Czech internal politics? Do you think it can affect it at all?

"I don't know if it's possible to say. I spoke about this cliché, about this black and white division between the two candidates......Yes; it is possible to say that typical voter of political left is maybe more on the side of Mr. Kerry and the typical voter of political right is maybe more on the side of President Bush. But I think that any result of the elections won't bring fundamental change into American-Czech relationship."