Czech Youth Show Cautious Support for EU Amid Policy Concerns

Czechs show growing interest in EU elections, but remain cautious about EU's influence on their country. Social Democrats aim to capitalize on this, but face challenges in securing seats.

Nitish Verma
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Czech Youth Show Cautious Support for EU Amid Policy Concerns

Czech Youth Show Cautious Support for EU Amid Policy Concerns

As the European Parliament elections approach in June 2024, a recent Eurobarometer survey reveals a complex picture of Czech attitudes towards the European Union, particularly among the younger generation. While interest in EU affairs and likelihood to vote have increased, concerns about policy pressures and the EU's role in Czech lives persist.

The survey found that 38% of Czechs are interested in the upcoming EU elections, a notable 22% increase from 2019 but still below the European average of 60%. Similarly, 58% of Czechs said they were likely to vote in June, up 28 percentage points from the previous election cycle but lagging behind the EU-wide figure of 71%.

Despite growing engagement, only 32% of Czechs would like to see the European Parliament play a more important role in their lives, the lowest among all 27 EU member states and well below the EU average of 56%. This suggests that while young Czechs are becoming more involved in European politics, they remain cautious about the EU's influence on their country.

The Czech Social Democracy Party (SOCDEM), currently unrepresented in the national parliament, is hoping to capitalize on this increased interest to stage a comeback in the European Parliament elections. Led by veteran politician Lubomír Zaorálek, SOCDEM is campaigning on promises such as a binding EU directive on minimum wages and decent work. However, polls indicate the party may struggle to cross the 5% threshold needed to secure seats.

Why this matters:The Czech Republic's relationship with the EU has significant implications for the country's political terrain and its role in shaping European policies. As a younger generation becomes more engaged in EU affairs, their views and concerns will play a crucial role in determining the future direction of Czech-EU relations.

Across Europe, the Eurobarometer survey points to a positive trend in key election indicators, with 71% of EU citizens saying they are likely to vote, a 10-point increase from 2019. Interest in the elections has surged in several countries directly impacted by the Russia-Ukraine war, such as the Czech Republic, Romania, Austria, Poland, Cyprus, and Slovakia.

The survey also highlights shifting priorities among Europeans, with defense and security now the top concern for strengthening the EU's global position, followed by energy and food security. This highlights how geopolitical tensions are shaping citizens' expectations of the EU and their engagement with European affairs.

As Zaorálek noted, the presence of Czech social democrats in the European Parliament remains indispensable for the country's representation and influence in EU decision-making. The upcoming elections will test whether the party can tap into the growing interest among young Czechs while addressing their reservations about the EU's role in Czech society.

Key Takeaways

  • 38% of Czechs interested in 2024 EU elections, up 22% from 2019.
  • 58% of Czechs likely to vote in 2024 EU elections, up 28% from 2019.
  • Only 32% of Czechs want EU Parliament to play bigger role, lowest in EU.
  • Czech Social Democracy Party aims to capitalize on increased interest.
  • Geopolitical tensions shape EU citizens' priorities, with defense and security top concern.