Vaclav Klaus as Member of the European Parliament? Will he lead eurosceptic forces?

You can find lot of speculations in the Czech media on ex-President Vaclav Klaus’s future and one of the most persistent is that he may try to become MEP. Let`s say Klaus will become MEP. Do you think that he could be a real leader of eurosceptic forces in the EU or not, and why? Read few comments by Sean HanleySenior Lecturer in East European Politics, University College London.

Klaus has dropped many hints about his what he might do next over the years – he spoke about the need for a new eurosceptic party in 2008, for example, but then didn’t create one. If he he did – as someone in his his entourage or Klaus him has obviously suggested – become an MEP for ODS, I think he would become an important figurehead for certain forms of right-wing scepticism and – if it survived as group in EP – would be the obvious leader of the European Conservatives and Reformers (ECR) group.

The question is, however, quite how powerful or united a force right-wing conservative eurosceptics Klaus might lead will be in the EP in 2014. I doubt they will be a very large bloc. Voters who are sceptical or hostile to the EU – or aspects of it like the management of the Eurozone – have a diverse range options to vote for across the spectrum including parties on the left (KSCM, Syriza), extreme right and anti-establishment protest parties like Five Star. Indeed, in some countryies like the UK, all major parties are talking eurosceptic

Even on the conservative eurosceptic right, however, I think Euroscepticism has become too diverse to be led by a single figure like Klaus, whose arrival in the EP might cause more division than unity. The ECR has already been a small and rather troubled grouping, with lots of resentments and rivalries between its three main parties. British Conservatives may privately be nervous about ceding control of the ECR to such a high profile Central European politician. Klaus is a much more controversial and more difficult to deal with figure with than Jan Zahradil. His views on climate change or gay marriage would also tend to reinforce ongoing splits between among British conservatives – some Tories find them appealing, other not all. (Domestic critics of the British Tories would undoubtedly use Klaus to attack them). The ECR has also drawn a clear dividing line between itself and more radical eurosceptics like UKIP,(who are in some respects Klaus’s natural constituency) again posing potential difficulties, if he headed the ECR.

In the end, however, the biggest problem for Klaus would be conservative eurosceptics across Europe probably actually want different things – the British Conservatives and UKIP are now focused only on the *British* relationship with the EU and are less interested in the overall shape of a Union the UK would not (they hope) be fully participating – or participating in all. From this point of view , while they might agree with Klaus’s views and cheer him on in the role of provocateur,as a Central European politician he is ultimately a bit of an irrelevance to them.


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