Current Affairs Czech government aiming for high turnout in EU referendum

14-04-2003 | Rob Cameron

The Hungarian government is celebrating a huge "Yes" vote in Sunday's EU referendum, but it was a result marred by low turnout. While almost 84 percent voted in favour, just 45 percent bothered to vote in the first place. Hungary's referendum was keenly watched by governments in other EU candidate countries, including the Czech Republic. Earlier my colleague Rob Cameron spoke to the Foreign Ministry's Jana Adamcova - the person in charge of the "Yes" campaign - and began by asking her for the latest figures.

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"We have 51 percent of people in favour of EU membership, about 20 percent against, and the rest are undecided. But of those who say they will vote, 77 percent are in favour."

What about the numbers for the turnout itself - how many Czechs will vote in June do you think?

"Well, these numbers are quite unclear. Some agencies say 70 percent, some say 80, some say 60. I think this is one of the most discussed numbers, because the question of whether people will go and vote is really very, very unclear."

Is the Foreign Ministry changing the campaign at all with the threat of a low turnout in mind?

"Actually the campaign from the very beginning has been focused on the motivation to go and vote. The 'Yes' part of the campaign has never been aggressive or too hard. Instead we are running an information campaign, a neutral campaign. So therefore we're really trying to motivate people to go out and vote."

The Czech parliament recently decided to hold the referendum on Friday 13th and Saturday 14th of June - isn't it tempting fate choosing Friday the 13th?

"I'm not very happy about this date, not because Friday is the 13th, but because usually these [traditional] election days - Friday and Saturday - are not the best days in the week. People tend to go away for the weekend on Friday afternoon. I really believe that the first proposal - to have the referendum on Sunday and Monday - was a better one, and that because of these days, Friday and Saturday, we'll really have a lower turnout."

But despite that, you're not superstitious: there won't be any disasters on Friday 13th.

"I don't think it'll be a disaster, but yes, I'm a little sorry we're having a referendum on Friday 13th!"

And for more on the Czech government's EU campaign, see: http://www.euroskop.cz/cze

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