Hundreds of thousands of Germans were delighted to witness the election of Angela Merkel as chancellor in 2005. They were rewarded with 13 years of prosperity and a strong political leader.
The Czech Republic now stands on the cusp of potentially changing its leader, who will have the power to turn to the EU to fix its migrants’ issue. O’Brien cautioned that with more than three decades of liberty, democracy, and prosperity behind them, there is little to worry about there. And yet, that is exactly what I worry about: Potential constitutional crises.
There are two significant challenges facing Czech political stability. The first concerns the laws on migrants, and the second concerns a diminished number of MEPs.
Story Continued Below
In December, the Czech Republic will vote on a new constitution. That will give a person such as Karel Schwarzenberg, who is now slated to become prime minister, the power to bring changes if he or she wants to.
Shaun Ewing, principal of Ewing & Associates, a global strategic consulting firm, wrote a well-received book about postwar Germany, “The Third Way.”
The idea of turning to the EU to solve Europe’s collective problem is an idea many Germans—and many other Europeans—believe in. A solid majority of Germans, including urban leaders, stand by Merkel’s decision to take in some 800,000 refugees. In the 2017 general election, Merkel’s Christian Democrats received 29 percent of the national vote—the same percentage it received in 2001. The Social Democrats, with 17 percent, also declined compared to 2001, and the center-left was unable to form a government with the Green Party or the anti-migrant eurosceptic party Law and Justice (EPP).
The Spanish Socialists and the liberal Ciudadanos Party also tied, with 27 percent, but in the end they each signed an agreement with the EPP, which would take them into its ranks. That is not a happy outcome.
The Law and Justice has already made some gestures to voters on migration—for example, a German candidate for mayor of his hometown did not reject the EU’s border plan for Europe in July, even though his party is traditional anti-immigration. The party now looks to Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis for help.
Saying more, former Czech president Milos Zeman recently warned at a conference that if the EU acts to help the Czech Republic and the Czech people, “there won’t be anybody to vote for those that are currently in power.”
And yet, compared to the approach that Germany has taken, it is questionable whether the Czech government has a real plan for solving the challenges that confront it.
Another problem is that the Czech Republic is currently down by about one MEP, compared to its quota in 2014. With its EU Parliament representation scheduled to shrink by another 0.3 percent in 2020, it is difficult to determine whether the Czech Republic will fight for its views.
I have a particular concern regarding large numbers of Muslim refugees from Iran and Pakistan. Like Germany, the Czech Republic benefited from large-scale immigration from its neighbors before World War II. But the communists did little to integrate these people, and Czechs still tend to be ethnically Christian. That is something my wife and I see in our restaurant very often; we haven’t really felt we’ve been welcomed into such a diverse city.
Today, the most common way to find out about people’s qualifications and values is through their Facebook profile. But in the Czech Republic, some refugees from the larger nations (e.g., Pakistan and Iran) use a social media site called Gumtree, which is a social media site for vendors and crafters that only requires an email address. So you can easily be served based on what you have to offer on your profile rather than what you think.
Needless to say, the government needs to figure out a strategy about integrating the new arrivals into society, especially when a large percentage of Muslims fail to abide by the law. Regardless of how successful Germany has been integrating its new population, the Czech Republic is nowhere near that position.