Commentary by Štěpán Cháb
The elections in Germany [on Sunday, September 26th] look much more frightening than the [October 8th-9th] elections in the Czech Republic. There, the Greens are coming out with their 'nothing is green enough' and Olaf Scholz is likely to take over as chancellor from Angela Merkel. In yesterday's Die Welt, he gave some of his core ideas. Even if we elect the [Nazi-like] Workers' Party to government in the October elections, it will not have the same consequences as the elections in Germany in just two weeks' time [now: tomorrow]. Nevertheless, the importance of our elections is crucial.
Olaf Scholz revealed his innermost thoughts to Die Welt. Inside them, the following idea also resonates: "In future, European and foreign policy should be decided by qualified majority voting. We must not block each other with unanimous votes." And I wonder if we will still be digging for Merkel with our fingers [we will miss her]. The European Union must, according to Scholz, speak with one voice. And this applies to foreign policy, trade, migration and refugees in general. What will this mean for us?
The Czech Republic is thus facing an election where it will face German pressure, either by picking either of two Czech pre-election coalitions that will effectively make us the seventeenth state of the Federal Republic of Germany or perhaps even a simple region in the wake of Brussels politics, where we will formally be there, but we won't have the power to intervene in the direction of the union (qualified majority voting), with the direction of the union being driven by Germany and France (the UK as opposition disappeared with Brexit and now it's actually up to Eastern Europe to rebel and make sense of the union again... or to break it up); or look elsewhere [see the last paragraph].
Olaf Scholz also spoke passionately to Die Welt about the cooperation between Germany and France, saying that cooperation with France needs to be narrowed and intensified, mainly on a military basis (the basis for an EU army?). And this is where the future direction of the Union necessarily comes into focus. The France-Germany line. Southern states such as Italy, Greece and Spain will be in tow with Brussels, held together by their enormous debts and their dependence on the condescending tolerance of the northern states, mainly Germany.
Remember how Greece twitched before its (near) bankruptcy. Their snap election in 2015 was won by the rabid Syriza party, which promised that Berlin would not knock Greece. Its leader, Alexis Tsipras, was very combative towards the union, even calling a referendum on the bailout programme after his election, which was not to Germany's liking. Then the government fell again in Greece, Tsipras was elected again, there was a referendum again, where the Greeks voted on the terms of the bailout, but Tsipras, under pressure from Germany and German capital, reversed himself and imposed much tougher conditions on the Greeks than those that passed the referendum. The austerity measures on which the creditors conditioned further loans included raising the retirement age to 67, raising taxes (VAT 23%) and introducing new restrictions on public sector salaries, privatising two-thirds of state-owned enterprises, cutting pensions by 10-30%, cutting budget spending on the military and health care, etc. The revolutionary star of Tsipras has faded at this point. He has submitted to Berlin determining Greek policy. It is similar with Spain and partly with Italy.
So the opposition to the hard core of the union has to be made by the east of Europe. And specifically in our country, with whom in government? With Peter Fiala and his words: "The Green Deal is a reality. There is no point speculating any more about how it could be otherwise..." A simple nod by a habitual nodder. With his statement that "we want change with Pirates and STAN," parties that are a dream for the hard core union because they fulfil exactly what the hard core wants to build out of the EU? And it doesn't matter that ODS formally stands for the right and the Pirates for the left. The confusion of politics in their presentation is frightening. No matter what our politics, we will still be a protectorate? As ODS understands it in conjunction with the Pirates (they don't go together at all), it will just end up like that.
Pre-election research by STEM has shown that a governing coalition of [prime minister Babiš's non-ideological] ANO and [nationalist] SPD may come. A nightmare for many. But, as I observe, we now need Orbán-like politics in government. And that's something that the "Together" coalition and PirSTAN simply won't give us. Should these coalitions stand in the next government, their rule will be very predictable and clear. And very pro-EU. The five parties of the two coalitions offer nothing else. Of course, for democracy to work and develop within the European Union, it must have differences of opinion and diplomatic negotiations, its Member States must be confident and must forge their own path. However, their self-confidence should not be manifested purely in designing a light green logo for an ecoscape instead of a dark green one. However, the EU looks like it is facing a challenge in the long run (see for example the EU's fight against Poland, which is trying to enforce that Polish law will be superior to EU law, the EU is talking about this fight as the end of the rule of law in Poland and is preparing sanctions against Poland). This should scare us. We have a different historical experience than France. And we certainly have a very different historical experience than Germany. We must stand up for who and what we are. Not have that erased by 'higher interests'.