Every now and again you hear rumblings from one of the EU countries that they may hold another “Brexit” styled referendum to leave the now-27 nation block. The Netherlands, France, and Denmark have all been tipped as potential spoilers for the existing arrangement which the European leaders are fond of reminding us that they worked so hard to institute over the past five decades.
Yet the truth is that the country which is most Euro-skeptic is none of these, nor even Great Britain. It is the Czech Republic. In the 13 years since the Czechs joined the European Union, they have become the wealthiest nation from the one-time Eastern European communist nations.
Their standard of living nowadays is now even embarrassingly greater than older Western European nations like Greece and Portugal. They also boast the lowest unemployment rate of the entire block.
Despite these benefits and privileges including Czech students studying abroad, families traveling freely, and businesses thriving through EU exports, only a third of the Czechs admit to being an EU member as a “good thing.” This is less than both the Brexiteers and crisis-wracked Greece. Only a quarter of Czechs want to change their beloved and stable currency for the Euro either, according to several Eurobarometer surveys.
None of this would be more than a curiosity if it were not for the fact that general elections occur in the Czech Republic next month in October. The opinion polls are heavily favoring Andrej Babis too. He is a billionaire who erupted only onto the political arena in 2011.
He has since modeled himself most successfully in the image of U.S. President Donald Trump through portraying the establishment parties as either incompetent or corrupt. He claims his business skills and success make him the best qualified to get things done in Prague.
It is true that while Czech Finance Minister for three years, he managed to force through a business regulation that linked all cash registers to the government tax office over the Internet. This dramatically boosted tax compliance to fill the government’s coffers with much-needed revenues.
His party has gathered voters from across the left and right of the political divides, deeply wounding both traditional parties. This party is called ANO, the Czech word for “Yes” and also an acronym for the Action of Dissatisfied Citizens.
At 63, the highly euro-skeptic candidate wants the EU to establish Ellis Island types of immigration detention centers in both Turkey and Tunisia. He espouses NATO militarily sealing the borders of the block to stop the immigrants from getting in illegally. Babis is similarly a voice for keeping the strong koruna for Czech currency. Per Babis:
“We don’t want the euro here. The common currency gives Brussels another area for meddling.”
The big news is that the latest surveys polling data from Median predicts that the Social Democrats will only receive 14.5 percent of the total vote, well behind the leading ANO party with 26.5 percent and only slightly ahead of the Russian-favoring Communist party at 13 percent.
And if the Babis camp wins decisively, the Czechs will be drifting away from the rest of the EU (ala Britain) exactly as the larger core founding members Germany and France are working towards greater integration via a multi-speed Europe. It could easily lead to another referendum, this time for a “Czexit.”
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