Academic journal article The Polish Quarterly of International Affairs

From Eurogovernmentalism to Hard Euroscepticism -Genesis of the Czech Liberal-Conservative "Anti-EU" Stream

Academic journal article The Polish Quarterly of International Affairs

From Eurogovernmentalism to Hard Euroscepticism -Genesis of the Czech Liberal-Conservative "Anti-EU" Stream

Article excerpt

Introduction

The Czech Republic is among the countries often understood as "problematic" within the institutional framework of and ideological debate about the prospects of European integration. As, for example, the "contrastive" analysis of the Czech and Slovenian EU presidencies showed, the Czech Republic might be understood as a "foot-dragger" and "troublemaker" within the EU.1 Similarly, Kaniok2 assumes that "the Czech Republic is by many commentators, politicians, but also political scientists considered one of the most Eurosceptic in the contemporary EU. Partly, such opinion is grounded in the behaviour of some leading Czech politicians, as Václav Klaus was, partly in the positions of some most influential political parties, such as the Civic Democratic Party (Obcanská demokratická strana, ODS) and related behaviour of Czech governments."

Naturally, the continually deepening "anti-EU" position of Klaus, former chairman of the ODS (1991-2002) and former Czech President (2003-2013), as well as his contacts and common position with the Irish Eurosceptic Declan Ganley, his provocative equations of the EU with the Soviet Union, and other similar steps, contributed to the Czech Republic's Eurosceptic label. As well as Klaus, two important think tanks should also be mentioned and included in the analysis of Czech Euroscepticism. These are the Centre for Economics and Politics (Centrum pro ekonomiku a politiku, CEP) and also the Institute of Václav Klaus (Institut Václava Klause, IVK), both directly connected with Klaus.

We may mention, too, some Czech political parties as the most important Eurosceptic players alongside those mentioned above. Analysing the issue in long-term perspective, the ODS should be mentioned in the first place, and above all its Eurosceptic-or in its own words "Eurorealist"-faction. Basically, it was the ODS that started to build up the Eurosceptic image of Czech politics within the European Parliament; its contribution to the establishment of the European Conservative and Reformist group within the EP after the 2009 elections will be analysed deeply in the first part of our contribution. Next to this permanent "trouble-maker," the conservative and nostalgic ultra-left Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia (Komunistická strana Cech a Moravy, KSCM), which has been in the EP continually since 2004, should also be mentioned in this context. However, we decided to limit our analysis, for reasons that will be mentioned later, to only the liberalconservative Eurosceptic stream of Czech politics, and so the KSCM is not included in the analysis.

As regards the general framework for our analysis, we should not forget the activities of the representatives of political movement "Independents" in the EP in the 2004-2009 electoral period. Last, but not least, we should mention Petr Mach, the chairman of the "new" ultra-liberal and anti-EU Party of Free Citizens (Strana svobodných obcanu, SSO), which contributed to the establishment of the strongly Eurosceptic faction Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy. Mach was the only SSO MEP after the 2014 elections, and win the first year in his role he presented himself as a provocative, antiEU politician, bringing with him provocative analysis of the prospects for Ukraine and so on.

We believe that the analysis of development of the SSO and its position within the Czech and European political debate presents an important step towards better understanding of the development and personal and ideological background of Czech Euroscepticism. Our analysis consists of two main parts. In the first part we present and discuss the development of the Eurosceptic stream of Czech liberal-conservative politics within the Civic Democratic Party and in direct connection with Klaus. The analysis also includes a discussion about the important personal and programmatic changes that moved (part of) the ODS from a pro-EU stance to a reserved "Eurorealist" position. …

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