Czechs have soured on German Chancellor Angela Merkel due to her stance on migration, according to polling data from the STEM research institute.
As the German chancellor prepares to visit Prague to meet with Visegrad Four leaders in the coming months, her slump in approval from Czechs may influence how she is received by Central European leaders who are wary about her stance on migration, particularly her desire to force migrant quotas on countries such as the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia.
Before the recent migration crisis, Merkel was very popular among Czechs. According to surveys by the STEM research institute, up to 72 percent of citizens rated the chancellor positively.
Merkel’s popularity then dropped sharply the Czech Republic due to her welcoming attitude to the hundreds of thousands of asylum seekers who entered the European Union starting in 2015.
According to the latest STEM survey from last June, now only 26 percent of Czechs perceive Merkel favorably. The German chancellor even became less popular than Russian President Vladimir Putin, whom 36 percent of Czechs rated positively.
The V4 is opposed to migrant quotas
Last time the German Chancellor visited the Czech Republic was October 2018, when Merkel arrived just before the celebrations for the 100th anniversary of Czechoslovakia.
At that time, she agreed with Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš that Czech-German relations were very good. She pointed out that despite the events that had taken place between the two nations in the past, the Czech Republic and Germany are now connected by friendship.
Previously, the German chancellor visited Prague in August 2016, shortly after the main wave of the migration crisis subsided. At that time, several demonstrations took place in the Czech capital over Merkel’s approach to migration.
Merkel has recently reiterated that she wants to instate migrant quotas across the Europe, a stance that is strongly opposed by the Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš.
Babiš said in November of last year that Czech citizens did not agree to abide by the majority voting system when they joined the European Union.
“Asylum policy is an internal matter of every member state. Redistribution of refugees who entered the EU illegally is not one of our responsibilities,” stated Babiš, adding that redistribution quotas area bad idea that will only encourage more migration.
“At the EU Court, we will use all options to defend our decision to reject migration quotas. Furthermore, we will coordinate our approach with the representatives of Poland and Hungary. We’re not alone in this. The Czech Republic will never agree to mandatory migration quotas, at least as long as I am the prime minister. I promised that to my voters and I intend to keep my promise,” he said.
The Czech Republic is not the only country in the region where Merkel is unpopular. This year’s Pew Research Center study showed that Angela Merkel is the least popular world leader across the V4 countries.