Campaigning in European elections: lackluster and low-cost
Elections to the European Parliament are just over three weeks away, but as far as campaigning goes there is little to show for it in the Czech Republic. Low-cost campaigns and a notable lack of debate on European issues precede what look to be the lowest-profile elections in 2014. I asked Jakub Janda from the Prague-based European Values think tank why this is so.
But if you look at the issues that the campaign centers around –the Dawn party has a strong anti-immigrants campaign, the Civic Democrats an anti-euro campaign – do parties perhaps feel that playing on people’s fears is the only thing that will make them go to the polls?
“Yes, you have said it pretty much correctly. Those two parties believe that if they illustrate or construct some kind of danger for the people they can claim that they are defending them against the euro or against migrants and minorities. That is the thinking behind it. We’ll see how successful that will be, because we know that adopting the euro is not a favorable idea in the Czech Republic right now 60 to70 percent of people are currently against it. But it also depends on who is bringing the message, because the Civic Democrats are pretty low on public trust right now.”
So what are the main issues being brought to the fore in this election campaign?
According to a recent poll 56 percent of Czechs consider elections to the European Parliament unimportant and are not planning to vote. Why is that?
“The core of the problem is that our national politicians –people in the government and parliament – are not talking about European issues. The debate is not really there. This is a long-term problem in Czech politics, our politicians do not want to talk about European issues that much, they do not have expert teams to advise them on these matters and if they do talk about European issues –most of the time it is negative. So that is the main problem, because when politicians do not talk about these issues the public does not think they are important.”
Do you think that people maybe feel their vote will not make a difference?