Current Affairs Hokovský: Migration and security remain top issues for electorate even on regional level
Regional and senate elections are just around the corner in the Czech Republic and although campaigns are in full swing, local issues have not come to the fore. In many ways, the discourse has mirrored topics dominating national or international politics: the problem of migration and threats to security. Some, such as analyst Radko Hokovský of the think-tank European Values, argue that the upcoming elections, despite their local character, will be dominated by positions taken by candidates on migration and terrorism.
“I have to say that I do not see any strong regional issues on which the parties would be campaigning. What are overwhelmingly dominating the public debate are the issues of migration and security. Numerous opinion polls have suggested that these are the two most important topics now and I think ultimately I think they will affect how people will vote: where candidates or parties stand with regards to the regulation of migrants or increasing security.”
Yet, there are likely more pressing problems locally, from unemployment to needed infrastructure and the issue of migration is one that is barely felt here, with a miniscule or handful of migrant having come to the Czech Republic…
“It is a bit of a paradox. On the other hand unemployment is low, the economy is doing quite well, so it can be seen as a paradox. It is also a paradox if these issues dominate as regional governments won’t be deciding on the issue of migration or terrorism.
“On the other hand, it is quite natural that while the problems are not necessarily that present in the Czech Republic, they are still being aired in everyone’s living rooms, online, through the media and of course news of what is happening at our neighbours’, namely in Germany and Austria. In a way, I think it a sort of ‘Europeanization’ of the Czech political debate, when an issue which is on the top of the European agenda, has come to debate not only Czech national politics but even the regional level.”
“Absolutely. Although the migration crisis peaked last year and the numbers have dropped, the potential for the problem to flare up remains high. As well there is still a threat of terrorist attacks in Europe which we have seen. So I expect these issues will remain high on the agenda and political parties will continue to respond to them.”