Analysis: projected election winners Social Democrats might have trouble forming coalition

Social Democrats’ campaign, photo: CTK

With four days left before a vote for the Czech lower house, the front-running Social Democrats seem to be losing steam, with a slow but steady decline in their voter support. On top of that, an analysis of nine different election polls by the ppm factum agency questions the party’s chances of forming a left-wing coalition after the election, mainly due to a sudden surge by the untested ANO party. Jan Herzmann is the agency’s director, I first asked him why he thought the Social Democrats were losing support.

Social Democrats’ campaign,  photo: CTK
“I see three reasons for that. The first is linked to the style of the Social Democrats’ election campaign which is not really progressive or emotional and does not have enough appeal for voters.

“Another reason is that some of the potential Social Democrat voters have been drawn by the new ANO party which has a strong and professional campaign.

“And perhaps the third reason is that typically, part of their voters is not really interested in politics. They do care about social security in the broadest but they are not very active which including participation in the elections.”

Your analysis suggests that the projected left-wing coalition is threatened by a surge of the ANO grouping. Why do you think the ANO party is surging? What is their appeal for voters?

Andrej Babiš,  photo: Filip Jandourek
“I should first say that the group has been polling with various results, ranging from 9.1 to 19.6 percent of voter support. So it’s difficult to predict how they will do; the only thing that seems to be certain is that they will pass the five-percent threshold.

“As to why that’s happening: they are different. They speak differently; they present themselves differently from the traditional parties. They are slightly populist: they promise what the people want to hear, especially fighting corruption. And the leader, Andrej Babiš, has convinced people he is not going to politics for money; he is rich enough.”

What is the dynamics of these developments? Your analysis suggests support for ANO is unstable. Do you think the Social Democrats might reverse the trend and meet their declared goal of winning 30 percent of the vote?

“For any party, the final week of the campaign is a challenge on one hand and a threat on the other. If we look at the Social Democrats, all the trends recorded by polling agencies are declining. So it will be difficult for them to cause a swing and reach 30 percent of more.”

Various polls says that around 40 percent of Czechs entitled to vote have not yet made a decision who they will support. Would you say that the Social Democrats might not be able to form a coalition after all?

Jan Herzmann,  photo: Noemi Holeková
“That primarily depends on the results of the Citizens’ Rights Party – Zemanites. If they don’t pass the 5-percent threshold, the Social Democrats and the Communists will most probably not be strong enough to a majority coalition or a minority government supported by a left-wing majority in the lower house.

“If such is the case, the situation will be difficult because as of now, no one wants to cooperate with the ANO party, and I cannot forecast what happens in this case.”