Czech politicians respond to German elections as Merkel era ends

The whole of Europe is watching Germany, where the long era of Chancellor Angela Merkel has ended in near deadlock. Several Czech politicians have congratulated the Social Democrats on their narrow win – and are talking up even closer cooperation between Prague and Berlin.

The eyes of many in the Czech Republic were on neighbouring Germany at the weekend.

The closely fought federal elections failed to produce a clear winner, with the centre-left Social Democrats slightly ahead of the governing Christian Democratic Union.

One thing is of course very clear: Germany’s elections mark the end of 16 years in power for Chancellor Angel Merkel of the Christian Democrats.

The leader of Czech party TOP09, Markéta Pekarova Adamová, tweeted that a “great politician” was departing, adding that she hugely admired Merkel’s ability to secure compromise.

Angela Merkel,  photo: Raimond Spekking,  Wikimedia Commons,  CC BY-SA 4.0

On Czech Radio Michaela Šojdrová, an MEP for the Czech Christian Democrats, also praised the departing chancellor’s ability to deal with tough situations, such as the economic crisis of the late 2000s.

“She takes decisive decisions.

“And that loan… the fact that she was able to reach agreement with the banks, to find consensus at European level, not to throw Greece under the bus – remember, it was also Spain, Italy and other countries – and on the fact it made sense to continue with the Eurozone. And even in the end to force through reforms.

“That was her doing. That was great courage and endeavour.”

MEP Ondřej Kovařík, who was elected on the ANO ticket, was critical of Merkel’s “We can do this!” slogan early in the migration crisis – but said she had learned from what he called a gaffe.

“Germany contributed greatly to the fact that in subsequent years both the EU and individual states began to seek very practical and workable solutions to the migration crisis.

“If you look at the recently proposed new compact on migration from the leadership of the European Commission – headed by Angela Merkel’s party colleague Ursula von der Leyen – the key points that caused disputes, like quotas, aren’t there today.

“The debate has a different focus.”

Photo: Bernd Von Jutrczenka,  ČTK/AP

Merkel’s possible successor Olaf Scholz and his Social Democrats were congratulated by the head of the Czech Social Democrats, Jan Hamáček, who said the party had made an amazing comeback.

Deputy PM Hamáček, whose own party may struggle to reenter the lower house in domestic elections in a fortnight, said he looked forward to future cooperation between the Czech Republic and Germany.

Pirate Party leader Ivan Bartoš – among the candidates for prime minister in the upcoming Czech elections – also congratulated the SPD and Olaf Sholz on their victory in Germany’s election.

Czech foreign minister Jakub Kulhánek said Czech-German relations had been never been better. He said that he hoped, whoever formed the next German government, there would be further reinforcement of the strategic partnership in a number of areas.