The Czech Republic was part of the 2004 enlargement of the European Union when 8 Eastern European countries and 2 Mediterranean countries joined with the existing 15 EU member-states. This took place one month before the 2004 European Parliament elections, in which the Czech Republic elected 24 MEPs. They will elect 22 in 2009, with the entire country voting as one constituency using proportional representation.
The 2004 election saw the following result:
- Civic Democratic Party (European Democrats) – 30.04% – 9
- Communist Party (European United Left) – 20.26% – 6
- SNK European Democrats (EPP-ED) – 11.02% – 3
- Christian and Democratic Union – Czechoslovak People’s Party (European People’s Party) – 9.57% – 2
- Czech Social Democratic Party (Party of European Socialists) – 8.78% – 2
- Independents – 2 MEPs
The result was the kind of dramatic result you don’t usually see in developed democracies. The Social Democrats were the governing party, governing in coalition with conservative minor parties. Turnout was extremely low and the Communist Party picked up SDP support.
Since the 2004 election, the 2006 national parliamentary election saw the Civic Democratic Party gain ground. The new Parliament made it impossible for either party to gain a majority without involving the Communist Party. The Social Democrats and Communists had 100 seats between them, while the Civic Democrats, Christian Democrats and Green Party (more conservative than many Green parties) won 100 seats. After weeks of tensions, two social democratic deputies abstained in order to allow the Civic Democrat-led government to take office.
The conservative government stayed in office until March 2009, when it lost a vote of no confidence. A new government was formed in May, led by non-politician Jan Fischer, who will lead a technical government until October elections.
The Civic Democratic Party has recently announced plans to leave the European Democrats along with the British Conservatives in order to form the Movement for European Reform, although it is unclear if this will be formed after the 2009 European election.
Recent polls have seen the Civic Democratic Party falling to about 25%, while the Social Democratic Party appear on track to recover most of their strength, polling in the high 20s or low 30s. The Communist Party has returned to its normal levels, polling in the low teens. The Christian Democrats have fallen from around 10% to 6-7%, while the SNK European Democrats’ vote has collapsed. The Green Party (European Greens) are polling around 6%, and will likely win their first MEP.