One day was not enough for the Czech Republic to choose its 22 representatives in the European Parliament. Voting continues this Saturday.
The country currently in charge of the EU’s rotating presidency has been through a political wild patch. The centre-right government of Mirek Topolanek failed a confidence vote in Prague, and had to be replaced. Jiri Paroubek, the leader of the left-of-center Social Democrats, who brought down Topolanek, has been pelted by his rivals’ supporters with eggs, in demonstrations of acrimony. The head of state is openly eurosceptic and in the same Civic Democrat party as Topolanek. It has had more seats in the European Parliament than any other Czech party till now. More than 30 parties and political groupings are competing. The far right launched its campaign calling for a final solution for the Roma gypsies. Six countries are voting Saturday. Three already have. In the Czechs’ case, it’s a bit of a dress rehearsal for its own general election in October. European topics have not been widely aired. The economic backdrop is the financial crisis, hitting central EU members hard. In the last EU parliamentary election only 28 percent of the Czech voters eligible turned out. Pollsters predict 40 per cent this time around.