Voter interest amongst Czech citizens in the upcoming EU elections is the lowest across member states, as only half of the surveyed respondents would currently participate in the polls, according to the newest Eurobarometer survey results. On the other hand, in neighbouring Poland, citizens intend to massively vote boosted by the October national elections.
By Aleksandra Krzysztoszek, EURACTIV.pl and Aneta Zachová, EURACTIV.cz
When asked how likely they would be to vote if the vote were held next week, 50% of Czech respondents said “quite likely”.
According to Czech respondents, the main reason people vote in the EU elections is their willingness to support a political party or their selected candidate. Among the reasons they would not vote in the EU elections next year, Czechs mainly mentioned that they do not care about politics in general.
On the other hand, Poland has seen a rapid increase in the percentage of people declaring their will to participate in the European elections, with three for four Poles intending to vote, following a record 74% turnout in the October elections.
Around 76% of the survey’s respondents said they would vote in the European elections, which is considerably higher than the average result of all member states (68%). Only Denmark, the Netherlands, and Sweden had higher results.
Compared to the 2018 results, Poland has noted an increase of 23 percentage points in the likelihood of voting in the European elections, the most striking rise in the bloc.
As a pro-EU coalition led by former European Council President Donald Tusk (EPP) is set to come to power as soon as next week and replace the nationalist Law and Justice (PiS, ECR) government, Polish society proves rather enthusiastic about their EU membership.
According to the Eurobarometer, 53% of Poles view Europe positively, compared to 45% of all EU citizens. Furthermore, 82% of Poles believe Poland benefitted from its EU membership, a result higher by ten percentage points than the EU average.
Contrary to EU enthusiasm in Warsaw, the same survey found that the Czech Republic remains one of the most Eurosceptic nations in the EU, as around 44% of citizens see the EU membership as “a good thing”.
The previous EU Parliament elections were held in 2019, and voter turnout in the Czech Republic was among the lowest in the EU at 29%.
Czechs focus on enlargement, Poles on rule of law
The survey also asked respondents about EU enlargement. The EU is currently considering opening accession talks with Ukraine and Moldova and expanding the bloc to include the Western Balkan countries.
The current Czech government sees EU enlargement as its priority and is pushing for quick accession for Ukraine.
However, the Czech public sees the enlargement differently. When asked whether they agreed with the statement that in light of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the EU should speed up its efforts to allow new countries to join the EU, only 37% of Czechs said they agreed. In contrast, 57% disagreed.
In Warsaw, most Polish respondents brought up democracy, freedom of movement, rule of law and freedom of speech and thought.
During its eight-year rule, the PiS government regularly engaged in disagreements with the Commission over its reforms that the EU executive found infringing judicial independence, media freedom and fundamental rights.
Poland joined the EU in 2004, in the biggest enlargement of the bloc so far. Still, it has not adopted the euro nor joined the ERM II mechanism, despite regular discussions among experts on the matter.