Prague 7 is one of the richest municipalities in the Czech Republic in terms of concentration of economic, cultural and social capital. This part of the city decided a long time ago not to rely on the national party politically and years ago founded its own party with the unambiguous name Praha 7 sebe. This year, she won the elections here for the third time in a row – she received over fifty percent of the votes. Prague also achieved success in Prague 1 (22 percent) and in Prague 5 (21.3 percent).
Prague generally had very good results in individual city districts, but it was weaker in the Prague municipal elections. The Prague-wide branch of the party from Sedmička has been part of the coalition in the municipality for the past four years and this year finished fourth in Prague with 14 percent. Čižínský’s recipe in the form of a social and ecological local party thus remained limited precisely to the city districts. Although the party is significantly transforming local Prague politics, this year’s elections may not fulfill the Prague-wide ambitions of Jan Čižínský, and he will not become mayor this time either. In addition, the announced negotiations on the future coalition between Spolu and the Pirates show quite clearly that Prague may find itself in opposition for the next four years.
Orlová, one of the poorest towns in the Czech Republic, once again elected the ANO movement to the town leadership. Andrej Babiš has passed through here a few times, he has no attachment to the region, but his popularity here is long-term. In 2017, Babiš chose Orlova to visit a local pub when he checked how the EET works. Even here they have a local group, but it only got a little over five percent. In second place behind ANO was the ultra-right coalition of the SPD and Tricolor in Orlové, but the coalition of ODS, TOP 09 and KDU, which did not make it to the council, did not cross the five percent threshold here.
Similarly, ANO voted in favor of Opava (35 percent), Ostrava (35 percent) and many other cities. The only big cities where ANO did not win are Prague, Brno, Liberec and České Budějovice, elsewhere the Andrej Babiš movement is the most convincing option for voters. In Budějovice, however, ANO formed a coalition with the victorious ODS as the other party, and in Liberec, ANO did not win by just two percent.
For the future of Czech politics, the significant failure of social and green policies means that we are approaching the Hungarian and Polish scenario, in which nationalist and conservative forces are fighting against economically liberal ones.
Ecological and social groups were able to win only in better-equipped districts, everywhere else dissatisfaction with the government was mainly expressed by the choice of ANO and SPD. In an economic and energy crisis and a very complex international situation, the preferences of the ruling parties of the Spolu coalition understandably go down. Although municipal politics has a different dynamic than national and regional politics, the current elections were significantly framed as an opportunity to find out what people’s attitude towards Petr Fiala’s government is. The rise of dissatisfaction with the very unstable economic situation recorded the strengthening of anti-establishment parties, especially ANO and SPD, which for the first time penetrated the councils of all regional cities. On the contrary, the traditionally anti-system KSČM has completely burned out and will fight for its very existence.
Just like four years ago, the ANO movement won the elections in most of the statutory cities and the regional center. The only exceptions are the really big ones like Brno and Prague. But even in Prague and Brno, ANO is around twenty percent. Otherwise, ANO won in Ostrava, Olomouc, Pilsen, Pardubice, Hradec Králové, Zlín, Jihlava, Ústí nad Labem and other cities. A similar record was recorded by the SPD, which in many places merged with the Tricolor. In contrast, the success of governing parties is basically limited to the economic centers where the most successful live.
Absence of a third way
Nevertheless, the result of the ruling parties is not a flop. The current political situation has had the biggest impact on the results of the STAN movement, and here it is probably more about the impact of the Dosimeter case, which shook confidence in this political project across the country. Much of the problem lies in the disappearance of the larger used alternatives that would oppose the national-right or liberal-economic political measurement of the country. Representatives for the ČSSD and KSČM in the Czech Republic de facto ceased to exist after these elections.
The Solidarity coalition, led by Anna Šabatová, in which the Social Democrats, the Greens, the Idealists and the Future movement came together, ended far beyond expectations. While the Greens won 1.8 percent of the vote and the ČSSD 2.8 percent in the last election, the Solidarity coalition as a whole won only two percent this year. The obscure Motoristé sebi party, which was founded by the manager of the Václav Klaus Institute, Petr Macinka, and in which we also find the less obscure financial analyst Vladimír Pikora, surpassed Solidarity by two tenths.
Solidarity’s sympathetic effort to connect social and green politics does not support reaching the voters of Prague. A poorly focused election campaign, which was not aimed at the traditional electorate of social democrats, is probably partly to blame. Sociologist Daniel Prokop recalled in a debate on social networks that, for example, pensioners, who feel threatened and at the same time reject Babiš, had no one to vote for this year. The campaign in the style of fun sweatshirts, smileys and a concert by the singer from Brno could not be further from them.
It is a question whether anyone from the Solidarita marketing team has thought at all about who the campaign is intended for. The campaign did not target civil servants, undecided seniors, or other potential subjects, who for the most part probably anchored with ANO. The resulting two percent corresponds rather to the fact that the campaign appealed to conscious voters, who, however, also politically manage Prague itself or the Pirates. Both entities are striving for these socially and ecologically sensitive policies in Prague. In short, Solidarity cannot reach voters and convince them that it will defend their interests.
In the past regional and municipal elections, however, it became clear that the union of social democracy and the Greens has its potential and importance. However, this cooperation must be framed much more clearly and directly. Solidarity did not succeed. She broke into places that were pretty reliably occupied by Prague itself and the Pirates, and you can’t use anything extra. And then to appeal to the traditional social democratic electorate, which has probably already moved permanently to ANO. From Social Democracy, which was potentially the strongest party in the coalition, it was as if there was nothing left in the campaign. Even former Prime Minister Vladimír Špidla could not compensate for this omission with the weight of his personality. After all, Špidla did not succeed even in the senate elections in Prague 11, where with eight percent it ended up in fifth place, behind Milan Urban, the SPD candidate. Despite all the mistakes in the campaign, the maximum for the green, social and democratic coalition was just over five percent. If Solidarity was to offer a more social Pirates or Prague to itself, this message needed to be articulated more clearly, to differentiate itself from the competition and to get this message to those who are most affected by such a policy. It is clear, in the current political situation, this is an almost superhuman feat.
Motorists, nationalists and the rich
For the future of Czech politics, the significant failure of social and green policies means that we are approaching the Hungarian and Polish scenario, in which nationalist and conservative forces are fighting against economically liberal ones. The idea that there will be a third force operating in between, appealing to people who do not want to add to one side or the other and who would create at least partially an alternative space between xenophobic, nationalist politics and the politics of liberal elites, which ignores the economic, social and structural difficulties of working people. is unfortunately now unlikely. Great invention, courage and effort will be needed to restore this alternative path of Czech politics. And unfortunately, it is not very current that it is in the power of the leadership of the Social Democracy or the Greens.
The only partially positive news can be the stable position of the Pirate Party, which in the national sum of all mandates maintains almost the same – be small – numbers in the elections in 2018. It means that the coalition cooperation with STAN has not yet definitively discredited this party and there are still voters willing to vote for her, even in Czech regions and smaller towns. The Prague Pirates won a few tenths of a percent more votes than in the previous elections, although even that will not be enough for Zdenek Hřib to defend the mayoral seat. These elections thus end the period where a number of projects were set in motion that directed the development of Prague in a more tolerable direction. At the moment, however, it is clear that the new mayor of Prague will emerge from the Spolu coalition and that this trend will reverse. Motorists and the rich will probably come to their own. In smaller towns, nationalists and motorists.
The authors are editors of Alarm.