Current Affairs Czech lower house election campaign goes into final straight after slow, negative start
Czechs go to the polls in just under four weeks for elections to the lower house of parliament. As the deadline approaches, the two main parties have unveiled their final campaign plans. We assess the battle so far and the prospects ahead of the vote.
The left of centre Social Democrats unveiled their plans for the closing phase of the election campaign on Monday. Those looking for surprises would have been disappointed. The party, which is the frontrunner in most recent polls, says it will hammer away at the already developed promises of an accessible and quality health service, curbing energy price rises and cutting the pace of the growing state debt in the run up to voting on May 28 and 29.
Their main centre-right rivals, the Civic Democrats, earlier promised to highlight the higher unemployment, business closures and state bankruptcy which they say Social Democrat tax and spend pledges will lead to.
Meanwhile, some of the smaller parties, with smaller campaign budgets, have only just really kicked off their national campaigns.
But the tone of the election campaign seems so far to have grabbed attention only for the overwhelming attacks on opponents and trade in accusations. Former president Václav Havel said in an interview published on Monday that he could not recall such a negative campaign.
His successor, current President Václav Klaus, says politics has degenerated: it is no longer a battle of ideas between left and right but of personal attacks and ridiculous billboards.
Those criticisms are partly backed up by the head of the STEM polling agency, Jan Hartl.
“So far the campaign is more or less boring. There is not much content. What one cannot miss is the prevailing attacks on the political counterparts.”
That, he says, is translated in a large number of people still undecided about their voting intentions and a more general drift away from the big parties in favour of some of their newly formed rivals.
“A significant proportion of people want to express their dissatisfaction with the way the big political parties operate. If we look at what that means in our figures there is a growing proportion of people who want to vote for TOP 09 or Public Affairs.”
If nothing comes along to reset or reinvigorate the campaign, then Mr. Hartl says the drift away from the dominant parties could be a harbinger of major political change.
He says that this might not be fully felt this time round but could be translated in a major political overhaul that will be felt sooner or later.