Analyst: German election results unlikely to alter relations with Czech Republic

Election posters of Angela Merkel and her challenger Martin Schulz from the Social Democrats, photo: CTK

National elections in Germany are taking place on Sunday. With some predicting the far-right could gain a foothold in the Bundestag for the first time in the history of post-war Germany, the results could have repercussions across Europe, including for the neighbouring Czech Republic. I asked political analyst Jiří Pehe for his take on the election’s potential impact:

Election posters of Angela Merkel and her challenger Martin Schulz from the Social Democrats,  photo: CTK
“I don’t think there will be any immediate impact, because it seems that Angela Merkel will win again, and so we should expect that bilateral relations will continue the same as they are now. But I do think that there will be an impact in terms of how the European Union will develop. The EU appears to have its eyes on the results in order to move ahead with the project of a two-speed Europe. And that may have an impact on the Czech Republic, because it doesn’t seem to be ready to participate in the hard core of the European Union.”

Analysts are predicting that the far-right Alternative for Deutschland Party could gain around 12 percent of the vote. Is that something that could shake-up Europe, or have an impact on upcoming Czech elections? Obviously the Czech Republic does not have a far-right party of comparable stature…

“I don’t think it will have an impact. The Czech Republic does not have a comparable far-right party, but at the same time it does have a communist party, which basically plays a similar role. So it could in some ways strengthen the communist party. But the fact that in the Czech Republic most of the protest votes go to the left, specifically the communist party, means that AfD success may not mean more success for the Czech communists. It may bolster Tomio Okamura and his Freedom and Direct Democracy party, but we will have to see how much.”

Angela Merkel,  photo: CTK
How would you describe the current state of Czech-German relations, and have they in any way been strained by tensions over Angela Merkel’s migration policies?

“I think that in general Czech-German relations are good, but I think the problem is that many Czech politicians are on the record criticizing Angela Merkel, and sometimes saying really quite outrageous things about her immigration policy. I would say that she has been generous and gracious enough to ignore all that, so I predict that once she is elected (to a fourth term) there will be no major damage to Czech-German relations.”