When the European Parliament approved the agreement in February of this year, according to which it will not be possible to sell emission-producing vans and cars from 2035, the Czech MEPs divided into two camps:
While the Pirates and Luděk Niedermayer from TOP 09 voted in favor, the rest, led by Alexander Vondra from ODS, were clearly against, or decently abstained.
The vote on calling on the EU Council to stop postponing the ratification of the so-called Istanbul Convention also resulted in a similar outcome at that time. Niedermayer for, Vondra against.
This opinionated couple often disagrees with each other, and next year in June they are fighting for the votes of voters on a joint candidate.
“Debates do not expire”
The coalition Together for the elections to the European Parliament was created in pain and despite the initial resistance of the main faces. It was only possible to break it by creating the program ten.
On a general level, they outlined the main points on which they say they can agree. Despite the effort to sand off the edges as much as possible, there are still topics on which Niedermayer and Vondra voted differently in the past.
After all, when comparing their votes over the past five years, the two disagreed on a third of all votes. In a hundred crucial votes, agreement was only 45 percent.
And for the sake of interest: Vondra has a higher agreement with, for example, the MEP elected for the SPD Hynk Blašek.
Rubbing edges are, for example, the topics of gender equality, reducing emissions and greenhouse gases, or electromobility, in which politicians will defend the positions of their female candidates in pre-election debates.
“Elections do not take place in a vacuum, pre-election debates are also part of it, and there the problematic topics that the coalition has decided to keep silent about do not become statute-barred,” Brno political scientist Otto Eibl alludes to the situation when the candidate’s representative in the debates will have to give his opinion on the topic, at which the candidate disagreed with.
Interview with Alexander Vondra
Together, they will put up a unified candidate in the European elections. The party bosses have pushed through what many in their factions have been fighting against for months. How will a candidate of people with often opposing views on key moments of European politics work? Alexandr Vondra, the leader of the candidate, answered.
Politicians do not want to reveal how they will divide the pre-election debates. However, Vondra does not expect them to participate regularly together so that journalists can then compare them. “I know you’d be excited, but we’re not going to make you happy,” laughs Vondra.
He does not even think that if he expressed his opinion, which would be different from the perception of TOP 09, that it should bring about some split in the Spolu coalition. It is said that it is unthinkable that “Topka” would somehow criticize him afterwards. “Do you really think that someone would knock us over the toes? After all, they begged us to go together,” he claims.
His “three” from the list of candidates think that there will be more rotation. “The candidate is built according to a clear key in terms of people and funding, and I expect it will work proportionally,” Niedermayer said of participating in the debates. But he confirmed that they do not yet have a clear “fahrplan” for public appearances.
The ten coalition together for the elections to the European Parliament
1 – Europe internally free (elimination of bureaucratic obstacles and redundant regulations)
2 – Europe internally secure (fundamental reform of the asylum system, rejection of redistribution quotas)
3 – Defending Europe against external threats (support of Ukraine, strengthening of defense capabilities of member states)
4 – A competitive Europe (preparation to take necessary protective measures to protect vital interests, strengthening patent protection against plagiarists)
5 – Energy independent Europe (larger share of renewable sources in the energy mix, decarbonisation with the help of nuclear energy)
6 – Green Europe for people (protection of nature, but rejection of unreasonable interference with private property or efforts to dictate to people how they should live and what they should eat)
7 – Europe connected by transport and information infrastructure (support of the trans-European transport network and its financing from EU sources without unnecessary bureaucratic obstacles)
8 – Prosperous agriculture and vibrant countryside (subsidy not for agroholdings, but for strengthening the diversity and resilience of the landscape, shortening supply chains – from fork to fork)
9 – Socially and culturally diverse Europe (avoid culture wars, roots in shared Judeo-Christian civilization)
10 – Europe of the future (not turning the EU into a centralized superstate, abolishing unnecessary agencies and institutions)
Vondra and Niedermayer represented two completely different worlds in the European Parliament until now.
On the one hand, Vondra – a conservative, the prototype of a right-wing politician who coines the slogan “Europe without nonsense”, wants to leave development to the market and wants to drive his car with an internal combustion engine.
On the other hand, the liberal Niedermayer, who, for example, sees the future of Europe in the Green Deal criticized by Vondra.
“The coalition for the European elections suffers from the same characteristic as the government coalition,” Niedermayer says, adding that even TOP 09 does not agree with the ODS at the national level precisely on the topics on which culture wars are fought. “But this is, after all, a coalition, it’s not a merger of parties,” he adds, noting that it would be difficult to find two politicians with exactly the same views and that, after all, there is no total unity on these topics in the European Parliament or within the factions.
List News went through and compared the votes of Niedermayer and Vondra over the past year. They have a clear agreement on policy towards Ukraine (its support), Russia and China or on consumer issues. It is fair to admit that they are not in a complete split even on ecological topics, only their “ceiling” differs.
For Vondra it’s “climate” and “alarmism”, for Niedermayer it’s the negotiation of a resolution on the removal of shark fins.
At the beginning of this year’s holidays, Niedermayer and Vondra, for example, unanimously voted for the “nature restoration law”, which is a law on the restoration of nature and damaged ecosystems. This proposal passed very narrowly. “Two of those votes that kept the thing from going down were one of mine and one of Vondre’s, where we both voted against the decision of our factions,” confirmed Niedermayer.
The ODS is already on its way to the European elections
“We are going to win the election. We have half a year to convince the right-wingers to somehow identify with it and not run away. Our partners will have the same task,” said the leader of the Spolu candidate Alexandr Vondra in the Seznam Zpráv report.
What they do not agree on, however, are votes regarding human rights, specifically gender equality. Of the compared 13 votes listed on the account on the X network “European Parliament at a glance”, they agreed in only three cases.
They see differently the acceleration of the ratification of the Istanbul Convention on the Prevention of Domestic Violence and Violence against Women. And also in the case of the directive on more transparent remuneration, which should eliminate the difference in income between women and men (known as the gender pay-gap), Niedermayer always voted in favor, Vondra was against.
Voting by ten
This topic is also related to one of the ten points of Together, namely the effort to avoid so-called culture wars.
“For me, that means not taking steps that start those culture wars,” Vondra explained succinctly. Niedermayer says that the concept of culture war is actually slippery and depends on its interpretation. “What is it? When you call for the elimination of inequality or for the status quo not to change?” he says, saying that his views are known and that he fits into the top ten.
The topic of the future of Europe is equally explosive. For example, the Ten Commandments state that they do not want to turn the European Union into a centralized superstate or that they do not want to revise its treaties. In mid-September of this year, they voted against each other on a point that, among other things, opened a debate on whether the European Council can decide by qualified majority or allow the recall of European commissioners.
This week, in the vote on changes to the European Union treaties, i.e. on a similar topic, none of the potential candidates for Spolu voted in favor, including Niedermayer.
Vondra voted directly against, Niedermayer abstained. “Perhaps in this case the vote was based on our ten,” Vondra justified the abstention on the part of his colleague from the candidate.
However, Niedermayer sees it differently. “It wasn’t because I thought we’re together now, so it doesn’t fit. A year ago, I wouldn’t have voted for 90 percent either,” said the TOP 09 politician. According to him, the material was poorly prepared, the vote turned into chaos, and the only reason he decided to at least abstain was his belief that the transformation of the EU was necessary, and he did not want put a stop to the mere proposal right at the beginning.
He also explains the different votes by different strategies, where his philosophy is to give the topic a chance, even if he does not agree with the implementation one hundred percent and expects that the details will be refined in the next approval processes. And others are halting the legislation in its infancy out of concern about how far the final version might go.
The first five candidates Together for the European Parliament
1 – Alexandr Vondra (ODS)
2 – Veronika Vrecionová (ODS)
3 – Luděk Niedermayer (TOP 09)
4 – Tomáš Zdechovský (KDU-ČSL)
5 – Ondřej Krutílek (ODS)