The swing to YES is gone. Why Prague is re-electing the right and is out of the Czech Republic and its neighbors
The elections were decided by Prague, said Prime Minister Andrej Babiš, visibly upset after the number of votes in the Chamber of Deputies. His YES movement led the census during the census, but when the votes of the people of Prague were reflected in the numbers in the decision-making process, the Together coalition jumped to first place. They gained 40 percent in the capital, YES only 17. Prague thus confirmed this year that, compared to other regions, its inhabitants vote for more right-wing and liberal parties.
Movement YES in the capital failed. Only 17.46 percent of the votes in the metropolises ranked him in third place for the right-wing coalition Spolu, formed by the ODS, TOP 09 and KDU-ČSL, and for the liberal coalition of Pirates with STAN. Compared to the national result, when YES reached more than 27 percent, this is a significant loss. “Prague hates Babiš,” the prime minister complained after announcing the results.
For the Together coalition, on the other hand, the profit of Prague’s 40 percent is necessary to be above average. Although it also won in seven other regions and gained 27.79 percent nationwide, its victory was the most convincing in the capital. Pirates and mayors gained 22 percent in Prague. Other parties have no longer given more than five percent of the citizens of Prague to enter the Chamber.
“It reflects the character of Prague as a metropolis in terms of the demographic distribution of people, their employment and lifestyle,” says political scientist Josef Mlejnek from the Faculty of Social Sciences, Charles University. More liberal and right-wing parties have been voting for Praguers since the fall of the communist regime in November 1989. The exception is 2017, when the YES movement, more oriented towards left-wing voters, won in the capital.
But the same year is also an example of how relevant Prague is for right-wing parties. Participation in the Chamber of Deputies in 2017 was saved by TOP 09. In Saturday’s post-election afternoon, 94 percent of the votes were already counted and the required five percent limit was missing the “top” of almost half a percentage point. But then the results from Prague began to be reflected in the results, and thanks to them, the party eventually rose above five percent. If it were not for the capital, it would remain without a mandate.
Political scientist Mlejnek reminds that Prague is by far the richest area in the Czech Republic, the average wage in the capital exceeds most other regions. The national average in the second quarter of this year was about 38 thousand crowns, Prague had 46 thousand. Praguers also often work in professions that require higher education, are more traveled and have more contacts abroad.
Although the phenomenon of differently choosing metropolises is known throughout Central and Western Europe, Prague stands out for its affection for the right. “In comparison with other European cities, we will find higher tendencies towards a market economy and below-average support of left-wing parties,” says political scientist Michal Pink from the Faculty of Social Studies at Masaryk University.
But the reason is not just that the Prague voter has more money and prefers parties that have a middle and upper class. “He looks at the world a little differently. He is a person based on personal responsibilities. He does not prefer as much redistribution as, for example, voters in the Moravian-Silesian Region,” says Pink.
According to him, behind such a view of the world is a number of habits that one has acquired since childhood. “You grow up in an environment that is far more urban and marketable. You need to arrange something yourself, otherwise you don’t have it. In places where people tend to redistribute, they can provide habits of having an agricultural cooperative or state farm, which somehow arranged everything, “says Pink.
He also points out that in most metropolises in the post-communist part of Europe, people tend to view left-wing parties negatively.
In addition, Prague is in an unusually large constituency in competition with European capitals. The more left-wing area of the city thus lags behind the right-wing majority. “For example, Electoral Paris is just one department, a district in the middle. What we commonly call Paris is a wide conurbation around which behaves west of Paris as well as Prague,” said Pink.
South City Vs. Old Town
Even in Prague, there are districts that do not fit into the whole picture. “The housing estate behaves completely differently. Jižní Město, Háje, Chodov are very different from Prague 1 or Prague 6, ”says Pink, the difference between people from housing estates and residents of historic apartment buildings or family houses.
This is confirmed by the results of the last parliamentary elections. In mostly housing estate Prague 11, the YES movement won with more than 26 percent, in old Prague 1 it was the first TOP 09 with almost 20 percent. YES reached less than 12 percent here.
This year, these differences have straightened out – the Together coalition has won in all parts of Prague, including areas that are sometimes preferred by left-wing or populist groups. In the mentioned Prague 11 we get the winning coalition over 34 percent of the vote, in Prague 18 it had 36.5 percent, in Prague 14 even over 38 percent.
Politicians and political scientists sometimes call Prague a different civilization within the Czech Republic. And point out problems. “People from Prague tend to express themselves negatively towards rural areas and vice versa,” says Mlejnek. According to him, the difference between how the people of Prague vote and how the regions can cause further tension and deepen the moat.
YES interrupted the dominance of TOP 09
Four years ago, the strong position of Babiš’s ANO movement disrupted the prevailing Prague orientation towards right-wing or liberal parties. In the 2017 elections, YES won here, as in other districts. However, its profit was significantly lower in the capital than elsewhere, gaining only 20 percent, almost ten percentage points less than the national result.
However, according to Pinek, the result was caused by the fragmentation of right-wing parties rather than the fact that Prague, following the example of Western European cities, would turn to the left. “If TOP 09, KDU-ČSL and ODS were running together as they were this year, the results would be somewhere else,” says Pink.
According to politicians, the difference between Prague and other areas of the Czech Republic was most evident in the two direct presidential elections to date. Once in most districts, Miloš Zeman won, and Prague recorded a clear majority of votes for Jiří Drahoš in 2018 and Karel Schwarzenberg in 2013.
The parties are trying to work with the different nature of Prague voters. For example, they often lead local candidates to a more liberal leader. “We saw it at YES when it was deciding whether Petr Stuchlík or Patrik Nacher would be the leader in the municipal elections. But even that did not meet the electorate as they imagined,” says Pink. Stuchlík is the founder of the consulting company Fincentrum, Nacher is an economist and media consultant.
“Red” Vienna, liberal Warsaw
From which country does the metropolis differ, for example, in neighboring Austria. Vienna is much more left-wing than other Austrian federal states. The Social Democrats regularly win it, which is why “red Vienna” is referred to in Austria.
Of the Social Democracy, all mayors in Vienna have been since the end of World War II, especially Michael Häupl from 1994 to 2008. In the last parliamentary elections, the Social Democratic Party won 21 percent of the vote and finished second or third in all Länder. In Vienna, however, she won with 27 percent.
An example is the result of the 2016 presidential election, in which the Green candidate Alexander van der Bellen and Norbert Hofer from the far-right Free Party of Austria competed. In total, van der Bellen won only 53.8 percent of the vote, but in Vienna 66 percent.
Slovakia also knows a clear difference between voter preferences, where Bratislava differs. This was the case during the overwhelming dominance of Robert Fico and his Smer party. Fico won the elections from 2008 to 2016, but in Bratislava he always had the worst results. For example, in 2012, it won 44 percent of the vote in Slovakia, and only 30 percent in Bratislava.
The situation is similar in Poland. In the last few elections, the Liberal Civic Platform has won in the Western voivodships, and the Law and Justice in the Eastern Conservatives. The exception is Warsaw in the east, where the Civic Platform receives more votes. After all, her candidate in the last presidential election was the mayor of Warsaw Rafal Trzaskowski.
The metropolis’ share of opposition to the government is also a reality in Hungary. In the elections in 2019, Budapest was dominated by the opposition coalition, and next year in the parliamentary elections, the mayor of Budapest, Gergely Karácsona, will challenge Prime Minister Viktor Orbán for the opposition.
VIDEO: Prague beat us because Prague hates Babiš, Babiš said after the elections (October 9, 2021)
Prague beat us because Prague hates Babiš. I will address the coalition TOGETHER, said the head of ANO Andrej Babiš. | Video: CTK