Social democrats made small losses, the Czech Communists hold their position, and the Greens and the anti capitalist left fail to make much impact, against a backdrop of low voter turnout and disillusionment with established parties.
Czechs and Slovaks voted with their feet in the 2014 European parliamentary elections. Less than 19.5% of Czech voters participated in the 2014 European parliamentary election. In Slovakia less than 13% voted.
With most voters staying at home, the mainstream parties were reelected without major changes. In Slovakia, European issues were hardly on the agenda. In the Czech election, discussion of the European crisis and the role of the Euro was a bit more present, but with most commentators repeating the same tired cliches.
The Czech Social Democratic Party (CSSD) scored 14.7%. It has never wavered from its belief in European integration as a social market mechanism that protects working people against neoliberalism. The lack of evidence for this position is gradually eroding its voter base. As elsewhere in Europe, voters are no longer sure what the social democrats stand for. Slovakia’s ruling centre-left Smer-SD took 24.9% of the vote, doing better than the fractured Slovak right in a general climate of disillusionment with existing parties.
The Communist Party (KSCM) held its position, with 10.98% of votes and 3 seats (in the GUE/NGL group). From the narrow institutional perspective of the party leadership, the party did reasonably well, It lost one sear compared to the previous European elections, but the Social Democrats lost three. Almost as importantly, no new force emerged on the left, despite the KSCM’s continued weakness in the social movements and among young activists. The party continues its long walk towards respectability, offering itself as a pragmatic partner for multiparty cooperation at the municipal and regional level, while still managing to position itself to working class voters as a credible channel for progressive aspirations and frustrations.
The anti-Stalinist currents in Czech civil society have never managed to establish a ‘new left’ platform that could provide an alternative to the social conservatism of the KSCM and the thoroughly mainstream social democrats.
The Czech Greens (3.77%) failed again to gain seats. After many years as a minor liberal centre party, in 2009 they began to reprofiled themselves to the left on social security, consumer protection and regional development, inspired by German policies regarding alternative energy, and job creation in new technology fields. But this years the party launched its European election campaign with an anti-Putin diatribe and a call for a more muscular European external policy. This mix failed once again to attract a significant activist and voter base. The party has senators but no representation in the parliament or at the European level.
The Pirate Party (4.78) failed to win a seat, but made an impressive campaign focused on personal liberties and opposition to the control of the internet by state and corporate interests using national security and intellectual,property as pretexts. Peer-to-Peer (P2P) file sharing is widely tolerated in the Czech Republic and Slovakia.
The Greens and the Pirates say they will challenge the constitutionality of the 5% threshold for allocation of seats in the Czech national and European elections. Both will however continue to receive state funding, which goes to all parties that gain at least 1% of votes cast.
None of the smaller Slovak left parties made a breakthrough. The Communist Party of Slovakia (KSS) scored 1.51%, the Greens 0.46%
resistance – Party of Labour (VZDOR – SP) 0.31% and the Party of the Civic Left (SOL) 0.23%.