Czech politicians have reacted with relief to Emmanuel Macron’s victory in the first round of the French presidential election. However some point out that the narrow defeat of nationalist candidate Marine Le Pen should serve as a warning signal to Europe.
Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka did not even wait for the official results of the first round of the French presidential election before going on Twitter to voice his relief over the predicted victory of Emmanuel Macron. “This is good news for France, good news for the EU and good news for the Czech Republic” the prime minister wrote adding, “it gives fresh hope to all those who are sick of the nationalist, extremist and populist tendencies in Europe.”
ANO leader Andrej Babiš hailed the defeat of traditional parties in France and expressed the conviction that Macron was heading for victory in the second round of the elections on May 7. Mr. Babiš, whose partly is widely expected to win the October general elections in the Czech Republic, echoed the familiar sentiment that centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron was a better choice than nationalist Marine Le Pen.
“I cannot say that I like everything I have heard from Mr. Macron. His views on deeper EU integration or his take on the migrant crisis are not something I share. On the other hand, Marine Le Pen’s vision is totally unacceptable. We do not want a disintegration of the EU.”
The leader of the third party in the ruling coalition, Pavel Bělobrádek of the Christian Democrats also expressed the hope that France would unite in the second round to vote against the nationalist card.
While the general feeling has been one of relief that the candidate slated to win the French presidential election is pro-European and ready to counter xenophobic tendencies, there are those who see the close result in the first round of elections as a warning and note that never before has the French nationalist party been so strong. The traditional parties have taken a beating, the choice here was between a pro-European candidate and a nationalist one, between one who would close borders and one who would keep them open, commentators note. The centre-right Civic Democratic Party’s deputy chair Martin Kupka told reporters the outcome of the first round reflected “increasingly critical views of the European Union” and should sound the alarm in Brussels regarding the need for reform. The head of the communist Party Vojtěch Filip likewise noted that the first round of the French election indicated a division in society that gave cause for concern.
On the other hand, opposition TOP 09 leader Miroslav Kalousek was ready to look on the bright side of the election result. The fact that neither left-wing extremists nor nationalists gained support in this election is good news for Europe, he said. While the former human rights minister Jiří Dienstbier of the Social Democrats added that he hoped France would unite in the second round to vote against “nationalism, hate and divisions” which could bring Europe nothing good.
President Miloš Zeman alone has refrained from commenting on the outcome of what is seen as a crucial election for the future of Europe. His spokesman said Mr. Zeman would wait until the second round of the French elections to comment on the winner.
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