National Politics and European Integration

National Politics and European Integration

From the Constitution to the Lisbon Treaty

Edited by Maurizio Carbone

This book discusses the domestic politics of treaty reform in the European Union, from the failed referendums on the Constitutional Treaty held in France and the Netherlands in May-June 2005 to the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon in December 2009.

Chapter 12: Czech Republic and Slovakia: Party Politics and the Travails of Ratification

Karen Henderson

Subjects: politics and public policy, european politics and policy


Karen Henderson INTRODUCTION Czech and Slovak attitudes to the Lisbon Treaty provide particularly good illustrations of the interplay between domestic politics and decision making on EU-related issues in the new Member States of Central and Eastern Europe. A comparison between the two states demonstrates a fascinating array both of strikingly different party attitudes to the European Union (EU), and of underlying similarities in the way that politicians are prepared to subordinate the interests of the EU as a whole to the needs of their own competition with each other. In institutional terms, the two countries have much in common: having been part of the same state for most of the twentieth century, they used similar models for many aspects of the parliamentary systems and electoral systems adopted after the ‘Velvet Revolution’ of 1989, and in the two successor states of Czechoslovakia after 1 January 1993. Yet in the mid-1990s, their political trajectories diverged (Deegan-Krause 2006; Henderson 2001), and this has had a long-term impact on the way that EU-related issues are embedded in their domestic politics. In the end, Czech and Slovak government attitudes to the substance of the Lisbon Treaty were not so different, and in both cases it has been domestic political squabbles that endangered ratification of the treaty. When we look at the way governments and other political actors behaved throughout the negotiation and ratification process, we are in many senses analysing a rather different constellation of political concerns from that found in ‘old’ Member States. We...

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