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#121 PEHE 20 May 1996

OMRI ANALYTICAL BRIEF 
 


CZECH PARTIES' VIEWS OF THE EU AND NATO

Jiri Pehe						20 May 1996 AB121

The seven parties that, according to various opinion polls, have  chances of winning
seats in the parliament during the 31 May and 1 June elections, differ widely
in their attitudes toward the European Union and NATO. 

NATO

The three coalition parties that currently form the government--the Civic Democratic
Party (ODS) of Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus, the Civic Democratic Alliance (ODA)
of Deputy Prime Minister Jan Kalvoda, and the Christian and Democratic Union
(KDU) of Deputy Prime Minister Josef Lux--are all in favor of the Czech Republic's
speedy admission to NATO, with the rights and duties of a full member. The
ODS describes achieving NATO membership as its main foreign policy goal in its election
program and claims that the Czech Republic is politically and economically
ready for such a step. The ODA, in addition, emphasizes the need for the continued
presence of US troops in Europe. The KDU's program, apart from general support
for NATO membership, offers few details. It says, somewhat vaguely, that Russia
should be drawn into the process of NATO enlargement. The three parties are
currently opposed to holding a referendum on NATO membership.

The Social Democratic Party (CSSD),  currently the main opposition group, is in
favor of NATO membership but is opposed to the presence of foreign troops and nuclear
weapons on Czech territory. It stresses in its election program that Russia's
interests must be taken into account. The party favors a referendum on  NATO
membership, despite the fact the Czech Constitution does not provide for holding
referenda. 

The extreme-right Republican Party (SPR-RCS), the far-left Communist Party of Bohemia
and Moravia (KSCM), and the reform-communist Left Bloc (LB) are all opposed
to NATO membership. The Communists are calling instead for dissolving NATO and
replacing it with a new system of collective security. The Left Bloc proposes 
a military alliance with other post-communist states, including former Yugoslavia.
 All three parties are calling for a referendum on NATO membership.

The European Union

All three coalition parties are in favor of EU membership but differ in emphasis.
The ODS is the most cautious of the three parties. Its election program says that
under the ODS leadership  the Czech Republic would take all legislative and
economic steps necessary for EU membership. At the same time, the party is opposed
to increasing the powers of  EU institutions and to the supremacy of EU laws
over national ones. The ODS program repeatedly talks of "defending Czech national
interests." Vaclav Klaus has recently said he is opposed to a single European
currency and common European taxes. Klaus has recently also suggested he may be
in favor of a referendum on EU membership because the questions of "national sovereignty"
are involved. 

The ODA is less cautious about increasing the powers of EU institutions; it argues
such a development should depend on circumstances. Kalvoda attacked Klaus in
1995 for making statements that, in his opinion, repeatedly cast doubts on the Czech
Republic's resolve to join the union. The KDU is in general in favor of EU
membership but provides no details in its program.

The Social Democrats are unambiguously in favor EU membership, claiming that their
own policies are fully "anchored in the policies of the EU." The CSSD sees the
EU as "implementing the system of social justice" and is in favor of European
laws' supremacy over national ones. It accepts all principles on which the EU is
built. The party is in favor of holding a referendum on EU membership. 

The KSCM, the SPR-RCS, and the LB are all critical of the current coalition's efforts
to join the EU. The LB's program says that it is a mistake to think EU membership
will increase the standard of living in the Czech Republic and that the
country needs to rely on its own policies.  The LB argues that the Czech Republic
should form an economic union with other post-communist countries. All three parties
demand a referendum on EU membership. 

Prospects

At present, opinion polls indicate that the next government will again be formed
by the current coalition parties. They may have enough seats between them to approve
steps toward EU and NATO membership without the opposition's approval or without
a referendum. However, it is possible that differences in  their own attitudes
toward the EU may prompt calls for a referendum on the issue. It appears that
more intra-coalition differences, such as those that currently seem to exist
between Kalvoda and Klaus, may emerge as the admission to the EU draws closer,
in particular because  the ODS attitudes toward the EU have become increasingly
cautious. 
 END


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