Tom Goodenough

What the papers say: The Czech election shows the march of the populists isn’t over

What the papers say: The Czech election shows the march of the populists isn't over
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The Czech election was something of a shock to those who thought the ‘march of the populists in Europe’ is over Andrej Babis – who ‘shares the anti-migrant stance and hatred for EU refugee policy of Hungary’s premier Viktor Orban and Jaroslaw Kaczynski, leader of Poland’s ruling party’ – was the ‘clear winner’, says the FT. What’s more, the paper points out, the ‘far right’ won 11 per cent of the vote in the country's election. Yet for all the comparisons, ‘the tycoon insists he is no Mr Orban’. Although he was against the euro, Babis says he ‘is not anti-EU’. But this does not mean the Czech Republic's EU partners won't need to be ‘vigilant’, says the FT. ‘Young democracies’ are prone to ‘manipulation’ and a ‘retreat from democracy’ – which could be brought about by Babis's apparent view of 'checks and balances as encumbrances' – would be a ‘tragedy’. Despite the disquiet about Babis, though, ‘western states…should remember that the election of these governments reflects disquiet with the EU status quo’. And if they don’t deal with the ’underlying causes of that discontent’ before pushing ahead with the EU integration plan ’being advocated by Paris’, they should beware: ‘doing so might only exacerbate Europe’s east-west split — and weaken the EU itself.’.

In the next 25 years, Britain’s population will rise to 72.9million. This increase is partly good news, says the Daily Telegraph. It shows that people are living longer. Yet it also means ‘serious challenges’ lie ahead. With the crisis in social care already biting, ‘the Government has to find a formula that fairly shifts some of the burden from the taxpayer to the individual and their family’, the paper argues. Measures to help funding such as ‘old age insurance’ need to become more widespread. But there also needs to be a shift in thinking, argues the paper: ‘strong families’ where younger people look after their relatives are another answer for addressing the problem. Whatever the solution is, however, the Telegraph says that the ‘left’ are wrong to talk of a ‘generational war’ between young and old. There is no such thing, argues the Telegraph; and the ongoing dilemma of how we look after our ageing population is ‘just the consequences of a lack of imagination and action in policy’, concludes the paper. ‘Britain needs to invest in its future now’, says the Telegraph.

The Sun focuses on another reason for the population boom: rising levels of immigration. ‘When Tony Blair and his cronies opened the doors’ to Britain in 2004, there was no thought for what this influx would do to ‘our public services’, argues the paper. Now, we’re left with ‘over-stretched hospitals, packed classrooms and housing shortages’. After Brexit, things will be different and ‘we’ll be able to control our­ borders again. But that doesn’t mean we’re going to pull up the drawbridge’. Britain's departure from the EU won’t put a stop to immigration, says the Sun, which points out how vital those who come to Britain to work are for the country’s economy. But whatever ‘level of immigration we decide is right for Britain’ it’s ‘vital’ the Government prepares this time around and doesn’t make the same ‘terrible  mistake’ as before.