Czech Republic – too few European topics attract the attention of politicians and the public

We would like to stress the salience of eco­nom­ic top­ics in the Czech Repub­lic and its pub­lic debate. On 28–29 May 2010, the Czech Repub­lic held gen­er­al elec­tions, with Czech nation­al debt and its bud­getary dis­ci­pline being the core issues debat­ed dur­ing the elec­tion cam­paign. The right-wing par­ties sin­gled out Greece as a neg­a­tive exam­ple of what could hap­pen to the Czech Repub­lic if it does not tack­le its own bud­get deficit.

The future of the Euro has been dis­cussed in this con­text. The Greek cri­sis pro­vid­ed an argu­ment for Pres­i­dent Václav Klaus, who has always crit­i­cised the project of a Euro­pean sin­gle cur­ren­cy. In an arti­cle for the Wall Street Jour­nal, Klaus argued that the Euro­zone has failed to deliv­er the expect­ed con­sid­er­able eco­nom­ic ben­e­fits.11Wall Street Jour­nal: “The Euro Zone Has Failed”, 1 June 2010, avail­able at: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704875604575280452365548866.html (last access: 29 June 2010). He has point­ed out that the Greek cri­sis was trig­gered by the Greek deci­sion to intro­duce the Euro in 2002 and that the Euro will sur­vive the cur­rent prob­lems but the price will be high.22Prague Dai­ly Mon­i­tor: Klaus: Euro will sur­vive but price will be high, 23 April 2010. Accord­ing to Klaus, the Czech Repub­lic has not made a mis­take by avoid­ing mem­ber­ship in the Euro­zone. His argu­ments res­onate in Czech soci­ety, at least among right-wing media and polit­i­cal elites. Even though Czechs are dis­turbed by the ongo­ing glob­al eco­nom­ic cri­sis,33Euro­pean Com­mis­sion: Euro­barom­e­ter 72.1. Results for the Czech Repub­lic, Octo­ber 2009, avail­able at: http://ec.europa.eu/public_opinion/archives/ebs/ebs_322_fact_cz_en.pdf (last access: 29 June 2010). they seem to draw a les­son from the Greek cri­sis – that the Euro is a prob­lem rather than a solu­tion. Accord­ing to the lat­est opin­ion poll, 55 per­cent of Czech cit­i­zens do not want the Czech Repub­lic to adopt the Euro (38 per­cents are in favour of its adop­tion).44Pub­lic Opin­ion Research Cen­tre: Czech Republic’s mem­ber­ship in the Euro­pean Union, 29 April 2010, avail­able at: http://www.cvvm.cas.cz/upl/zpravy/101034s_pm100429.pdf (last access: 29 June 2010). Among the Euro’s main oppo­nents are the vot­ers of the Social Democ­rats and the Com­mu­nists as well as peo­ple with a low stan­dard of liv­ing.55Prague Dai­ly Mon­i­tor: Poll: Most Czechs against euro adop­tion, 30 April 2010.

As we have already not­ed, the Czech pre-elec­tion debate about Euro­pean and inter­na­tion­al issues has been nar­rowed down to a rel­a­tive­ly few top­ics: the eco­nom­ic cri­sis and the Euro sup­ple­ment­ed with a con­tin­u­ing expert debate over Czech and Euro­pean ener­gy secu­ri­ty and over the future of the East­ern Part­ner­ship. We have also record­ed some media cov­er­age of the activ­i­ties of the Czech mem­ber of the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion for Enlarge­ment and Euro­pean Neigh­bour­hood Pol­i­cy Šte­fan Füle and a very lim­it­ed pub­lic and polit­i­cal dis­cus­sion about the imple­men­ta­tion of the Lis­bon Treaty. The Czech media also report­ed on the Czech Republic’s com­plaint about the lack of EU sup­port for the lift­ing of Cana­di­an visas.66Czech News Agency: Czechs do not feel EU sup­port for lift­ing of Cana­di­an visas, 25 Feb­ru­ary 2010, avail­able at: http://www.ceskenoviny.cz/news/zpravy/czechs-do-not-feel-eu-support-for-lifting-of-canadian-visas/440831 (last access: 29 June 2010).

    Footnotes

  • 1Wall Street Jour­nal: “The Euro Zone Has Failed”, 1 June 2010, avail­able at: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704875604575280452365548866.html (last access: 29 June 2010).
  • 2Prague Dai­ly Mon­i­tor: Klaus: Euro will sur­vive but price will be high, 23 April 2010.
  • 3Euro­pean Com­mis­sion: Euro­barom­e­ter 72.1. Results for the Czech Repub­lic, Octo­ber 2009, avail­able at: http://ec.europa.eu/public_opinion/archives/ebs/ebs_322_fact_cz_en.pdf (last access: 29 June 2010).
  • 4Pub­lic Opin­ion Research Cen­tre: Czech Republic’s mem­ber­ship in the Euro­pean Union, 29 April 2010, avail­able at: http://www.cvvm.cas.cz/upl/zpravy/101034s_pm100429.pdf (last access: 29 June 2010).
  • 5Prague Dai­ly Mon­i­tor: Poll: Most Czechs against euro adop­tion, 30 April 2010.
  • 6Czech News Agency: Czechs do not feel EU sup­port for lift­ing of Cana­di­an visas, 25 Feb­ru­ary 2010, avail­able at: http://www.ceskenoviny.cz/news/zpravy/czechs-do-not-feel-eu-support-for-lifting-of-canadian-visas/440831 (last access: 29 June 2010).

The reports focus on a report­ing peri­od from Decem­ber 2009 until May 2010. This sur­vey was con­duct­ed on the basis of a ques­tion­naire that has been elab­o­rat­ed in March and April 2010. Most of the 31 reports were deliv­ered in May 2010.

The EU-27 Watch No. 9 receives sig­nif­i­cant fund­ing from the Otto Wolff-Foun­da­tion, Cologne, in the frame­work of the ‘Dia­log Europa der Otto Wolff-Stiftung’, and finan­cial sup­port from the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion. The Euro­pean Com­mis­sion is not respon­si­ble for any use that may be made of the infor­ma­tion con­tained there­in.