Is ex-president Václav Klaus right when he says that the European Parliament is “mostly a dumping ground for second-rate politicians for which there are no sufficient roles at home”?
To a great extent, he is. The EP plays a minimal role in the political life of the Czech Republic, compared to the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate, and is only exceptionally at the center of citizens’ attention.
MEPs are fundamentally limited by traveling from the Czech Republic to the seats of this assembly – it takes their time and energy. On the other hand, MEPs have a high financial rating and a lot of opportunities to hire their colleagues. And most importantly, it is relatively easy to get into this institution. In previous elections, only 80,000 votes were enough, which is not so much when the whole country is the constituency. The experience of the three Euro elections confirms to us Klaus’s thesis of a dumping ground to a great extent.
It has to be said that even the candidates for the new EP mostly do not convince us – they are often matadors and seem to the voters as some inventory that we somehow know it exists, but no one remembers any extraordinary act of some of the “inventory numbers”, although there might be hard-working and active MEPs among them. However, their activities are not in sight of the voters.
This year, TOP 09 chairman Jiří Pospíšil, who as MEP ran for the Prague City Hall last year, is an illustrative case. Currently, he is the TOP 09 leading candidate for the European elections. Everyone thinks that such a chairman, sitting on many chairs, probably will not be interested in working in the Czech Chamber of Deputies, and if so, how anyone could combine so many jobs? In short, even some domestic politicians support the idea that the euro mandate is just a good “side job”.
We can think about whether MEPs do not promote their work badly, but that is a mistake. The reputation of the EP as a dead-end institution is determined by the meaning of this assembly, so this year again, people will vote on the basis of domestic problems, promises, and preferences. We cannot say that there was a vote in the Europarliament that would be remembered for decades. It is not quite possible. The whole body is a derivation of the domestic policies of individual countries, and the EP alliances only reflect a current harmony of particularisms. After the May elections, this structural error will probably be even more significant, because the anti-integrative parties will grow stronger.