German election results evoke mixed reactions in Prague

Martin Schulz, Angela Merkel, photo: CTK

The outcome of Germany’s parliamentary elections have evoked mixed reactions in Prague; relief over Chancellor Angela Merkel’s election victory is mingled with concern by the surge of support for the AfD which will bring a far-right party into Germany's parliament for the first time in more than half a century.

Martin Schulz,  Angela Merkel,  photo: CTK
Congratulations to Chancellor Merkel have poured in from Czech mainstream politicians who are hoping that, despite the conservative Christian Democratic party’s weakened position, the seasoned German chancellor will succeed in forming a stable government.

“This is immensely important for Europe and for Czech-German relations” Prime Minister Sobotka tweeted adding that “those who are celebrating the surge of support for the AfD cannot see further than their nose – today the party is against migrants and the EU, tomorrow it will target Czechs and Poles.”

The Social Democrat prime minister likewise expressed disappointment over the poor showing of the SPD, saying the party had clearly fulfilled its election program, but all the credit had gone to CDU/CSU. He said he could understand Schulz’s decision to go into the opposition.

Czech Foreign Minister Lubomír Zaorálek likewise welcomed Angela Merkel’s fourth successive election victory as a promise of stability and continuity in Germany and the EU, but predicted the chancellor would not have an easy time ahead of her.

“The fact that Chancellor Merkel won the elections for the fourth time in a row is a major achievement that commands respect, however her party’s victory was far from resounding and the creation of a stable coalition is likely to be a brain-teaser.”

Centre-right TOP 09 leader Miroslav Kalousek said it was encouraging that the majority of voters had chosen to support democracy and humanism over populism and hate, noting that the boost in support for AfD was no surprise and had been amply assisted by Russian propaganda.

Photo: CTK
Far stronger words came from ANO leader Andrej Babiš who tweeted that the AfD was in actual fact the winner of this election. As regards the SPD’s poor showing Babiš noted that the German Socialists were not only ruining their own party, but Europe as well. Communist Party leader Vojtěch Filip said the loss of support for traditional parties such as CDU and SPD in favour of the far-right AfD was “not good news for Germany or Europe”. It is obvious that there is widespread disillusionment in Germany, he noted.

The former secretary for European affairs Tomáš Prouza noted that the CDU’s likely coalition with the liberal Free Democratic Party and the Greens would put more pressure on reforms in EU regulations in the sphere of energy, industry and climate.

And – as expected – the election success of the AfD drew a cheer from the Eurosceptic former Czech president Václav Klaus who publicly supported the party in the run-up to the elections. Klaus said the weakening of the traditional parties in favour of AfD was “a fantastic result” which showed that German voters had not allowed themselves to be brainwashed by media propaganda and had used their own common sense. He expressed the hope that Czech voters would follow their example in October’s parliamentary elections.