The 2014 European Parliament Elections: How Did Voters Perform in the Czech Republic?

Photo: Free Citizens' Party. Wikimedia Commons

The 2014 EP elections are over. Below, you can find further analysis of consequences brought by the Czech results. They are summed up into 5 points.

Firstly, TOP09, a brand of Prince Karel Schwarzenberg, a popular politician from the Noble family of Schwarzenbergs, still works quite well. The first two of the candidates’ list of the party, Luděk Niedermayer, an ex-member of The Czech National Bank (BoD), and Jiří Pospíšil, a professional politician, are undisputedly strong candidates. Pospíšil himself received the most of the preferential votes in the whole elections. However, it was again a halo of Prince Karel Schwarzenberg who mobilized voters and got them to polling stations; even in warm weather which always increases opportunity costs of voting. Again, people said they went to the elections to “vote for Karel”, and again, especially young people wore badges with the face of “popular Karel”, although he did not run for a chair in these elections. To make long story short, TOP 09 got 15.95 % of votes and 4 chairs in the EP.

Secondly, the formation ANO 2011, led by a billionaire and media magnate Andrej Babiš, did not score as much as its candidates would love to. A very tight victory (16.13 % vs. 15.95 %) is in the full contradiction with election surveys which prognosticated more than 20 % to this party. What does it mean? Andrej Babiš and his colleagues found out that they haven’t created such a political base that would allow them to “win any elections”, as it was often argued. Such findings may have an impact on domestic political negotiations; politicians, bureaucrats, media and other subjects talked about Babiš and his party as about sovereign winners of hypothetical early parliamentary elections. This factor had been (mis)used several times by Babiš in negotiations within the governmental coalition.

Thirdly, it was proven that Czech Social Democrats cannot attract their voters with the EU topics, which are generally more complicated than local ones. The electorate of social democrats responds mainly to simple and unsophisticated campaigns promising welfare, benefits and security in everyday life. The Czech Social Democratic Party has got four seats as the election winner and the other party in order. That is the maximum that they could have gotten, I would say. In the last elections, socialists were providing simple slogans and populist promises easy to understand. That is why the party lost three seats and over 59 percent of voters (2009: 528,132 voters vs. 2014: 214,800 voters).

For the next, the Civic Democratic Party is still under the burden of a deep personnel and topical crisis. Nowadays, many people do not bear in mind that Civic Democrats masterfully dominated the European elections in 2009 with a gain of 31.45 % of the votes and got nine seats! Although the party chief Petr Fiala set a realistic target of 7.5 % of votes (the party eventually reached it and got 2 seats), a real benchmark should be precisely linked to the year 2009. A comparison of such hurts…

Free Citizens' Party. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Last but not least, the Free Citizens Party has succeeded! Already in the parliamentary elections in 2013, this party showed that all competitors should respect their transition from a community of libertarians discussing mainly on social networks and in pubs into a professional political party. The efficiently managed campaign before the 2014 EP elections confirmed this fact and sent their leader, an economist Petr Mach, to Brussels (and Strasbourg – two seats of the EP is one of the things he often criticizes). The success of the party is both a good news and a motivation for further hard work of members and followers. Before the elections, many critics of the party and of the leader pointed out three things:

  • The real impacts of Free Citizens are not correlated with a potential of free-market oriented ideas that the party advocates.

  • The party is waiting too long for some election success.

  • The party is unable to penetrate mainstream media.

Nevertheless, the party has worked hard, and with a help of social networks, student debates and legions of volunteers slowly but surely built their core electorate that helped them succeed during the last week. Now, the Free Citizens Party should systematically extend their basement. If a turnout of voters was higher, it would not likely suffice for their success, i.e. for passing the 5 % threshold. The results of the elections to the EP in 2014, however, are a good investment for both parties popularization and municipal and senatorial elections in the second half of 2014. It’s something to build on – remember that compared the elections to the EP in 2009 The Free Citizens Party extended its electorate by more than twice (2014: 79,540 vs. 2009: 29,846).