Czech reactions to US Presidential elections

03-11-2004

Provisional ballots may delay a final verdict but it looks like US President George W. Bush has won over Democratic Senator John Kerry and will be re-elected to a second term in the White House. What will the implications be for the Czech Republic? Whatever the final result, Ludek Bednar, from Central Europe magazine argues that there is one important lesson Czechs can learn from the US presidential race.

George W. Bush, photo: CTKGeorge W. Bush, photo: CTK "It's absolutely excellent that seventy percent of the electorate came to vote in the United States. I think that it's a signal to Europe, where voter turnout is only fifty percent."

In the recent Czech elections to the European Parliament, only a quarter of the electorate even bothered to turn up. But in the Czech Republic the US election has aroused passion. Erazim Kohak is a philosopher and professor, and lifelong Social Democrat. He lived in the United States for several decades:

"If Mr Bush would win it would be very tragic for the whole world because it would mean that America would no longer stand for liberty and justice but it would stand for force and greed. Europe needs a world at peace. Europe has basically become the bearer of democratic ideals. The America that Bush represents - and it's only one half of America - represents the imperial stance of the United States."

But Radek Khol, from the Institute of International Relations in Prague feels that such anti-Bush sentiment is unconstructive and exaggerated:

"I would distinguish between the popular sentiments, which run at the moment quite strongly against America and the attitude of elites who will have to find some modus vivendi with the new second republican administration in the White House. They know all too well that they cannot possibly isolate the United States and they would like to see at least those relations that are bound in NATO to bring the two sides of the Atlantic together to somehow survive these tumultuous years that may lie ahead."

03-11-2004