EP election results biggest success in years for Civic Democrats

Jan Zahradil (vlevo) and Mirek Topolánek, photo: CTK

The centre-right Civic Democrats headed by former prime minister Mirek Topolánek were the clear winners in the Czech Republic’s elections to the European Parliament at the weekend. They finished some way ahead of the Social Democrats, taking nine out of the Czech Republic’s 22 seats.

Photo: CTK
Nine seats for the Civic Democrats; seven for the Social Democrats; four for the Communists; and two for the Christian Democrats. That’s how the Czech Republic’s 22 seats at the European Parliament were distributed at the elections over the weekend. Only four parties – the four biggest parties in the lower house – made it past the five-percent threshold. The turnout was just over 28 percent, which was slightly higher than in 2004.

The European elections result is the first good news for the centre-right Civic Democrats in more than two years. After a staggering defeat in regional and Senate elections last autumn, and the embarrassing fall of the government in the middle of the country’s EU presidency, the party won by more than nine percent. Number one on the Civic Democrat ballot was MEP Jan Zahradil.

“We are very happy because we won nine out of 22, which is even a better result than last time when we took nine out of 24. So according to the percentage, we did better than in 2004.”

What do you think played major role in this election?

“I think that those who voted knew something about European issues and about the agenda of the European Parliament. Those parties that wanted to play the domestic card were not successful, and either were those that played a very aggressive and personal note. So from this point of view, I’m happy that we were able to convince our voters to vote on real European issues.”

Jiří Havel,  photo: CTK
The leader of the Social Democrat ticket, Jiří Havel, sees a silver lining to coming in second. The Social Democrats won five seats more compared to the last European election in 2004, when they took only two.

“It’s not a victory but it’s not a defeat either. Our possibilities were between five and seven seats, and we took seven, so I would say it’s a limited success.”

Jan Zahradil  (left) and Mirek Topolánek,  photo: CTK
Do you think that the fact that your party was instrumental in the no-confidence vote for the government of Mr Topolánek during the Czech EU presidency?

“I’m not sure if it was important but it may have played some role. We had a dilemma – either support the government, or have the Lisbon treaty approved. So we perhaps made some sort of sacrifice – we now have the Lisbon treaty but we did little worse in the European election.”

While the Christian Democrats defended their two seats, the Communist Party lost two seats and will only have two MEPs. The Euro-sceptic Suverenita was very close, with 4.2 percent, and the election was disappointing for the Greens, who were hoping for at least one seat but received just over two percent of the vote. All parties who polled one percent or more get money for every vote received; among those who made that cut were the neo-Nazi Workers Party.