Communist Party consolidates position as country's second strongest force

14-11-2003

A new survey released on Thursday by the TNS Factum agency claimed that the Communist Party has now well and truly overtaken the largest party in the coalition government, the Social Democrats, leading them by four points. Other polls taken over the last few months have produced similar results - the Communists appear to have consolidated their position as the second strongest force in the land. But is this just a case of lies, damn lies, and opinion polls? We asked analyst Tomas Sedlacek.

"Well if they repeatedly do show the same tendency, then I think it is a sign of something. It's difficult to trust these polls down to the last one or two percent, but if they continually show the growing potential of the Communist Party - and they have done exactly that over the past six months or even longer - then one mustn't be surprised that they are overtaking the traditional leading parties."

But what explains their popularity? The Communist Party hasn't really done much in the last few years.

"First of all is what you just mentioned: they don't do anything. They've never been in government since the revolution, so they're perceived as the alternative to the leading parties. If you look at the political spectrum, they really represent the most radical and indeed the only alternative to the leading parties. Secondly, it seems the Czech voters are starting to prefer very firm parties. The Communists are the only ones who really show very stable opinions as well as a stable structure within the party, unlike the rest of the parties, for example the Social Democrats."

It's four days before we mark the 14th anniversary of the fall of Communism. People have pretty short memories don't they, if so many are willing to vote for the Communist Party?

"Well I think the new electorate is somewhat disappointed with the current situation, and as I said, the Communists are the only alternative party to the parties which have ruled for the last 14 years. So there is a certain amount of disappointment among a large percentage of the population with the alternatives that the Social Democrats and the Civic Democrats have to offer."

What do you think the Communists can do with this strong showing in the polls? How can they capitalise on these poll results?

"Well there is a third factor of course contributing to their rising popularity: in the past year or so they have been gaining respect. They've been invited to various negotiations, and they even contributed to the election of the current president. So they are perceived to be a standard democratic party which wasn't the case a few years ago."

Obviously opinion polls are one thing and election results are another. Do you really see the Communist Party coming second if an election were held tomorrow?

"I'm afraid there's a very strong possibility that they would be fighting for second or third place."

14-11-2003