Parties gearing up for early elections
Czech President Miloš Zeman is due to formally dissolve the lower house of Parliament on August 28, with an early general election likely to take place by the end of October. That gives political parties two months to reach their voters. Some of them are wasting no time and have already begun campaigning.
“First of all, if you have only 60 days to run a proper election campaign, you have to skip all the data and data collection processes because you won’t have time to base your strategic decisions on polling. So the campaign will be a little different. There will of course be messages and programmes. You can run a campaign but it will be based more on instinct than on data.”
After seven years of centre-right governments, the left-wing Social Democrats are the hot favourites. Party chair Bohuslav Sobotka said Social Democrats would aim to collect a third of the votes cast which would give them a chance to form their own government with the support of other left-wing parties including the Communists and possibly the president’s own political grouping, the Citizens’ Rights Party – Zemanites. Anna Matušková says left-wing parties will probably highlight economic issues in their campaigns.
“Another topic, and one that will probably be raised by right-wing parties, will be a clash of values. They will try to present themselves as someone who can secure the right direction for the country against the Social Democrats, the Communists, and of course the current president.”
The country’s right-wing parties, meanwhile, seem to be on the ropes. Polls suggest the Civic Democrats, who have dominated this part of the political spectrum in the past, might have trouble winning any seats at all. Also, the Civic Democrats are yet to pick their new leader as Petr Nečas stepped down both as party chair and the prime minister after his government collapsed in June.
There are also a number of parties striving to enter the lower house for the first time, or those attempting a comeback. The former include ANO, a populist group formed by multi-billionaire Andrej Babiš, the nationalist Sovereignty, and some others; among the latter are the Christian Democrats and the Greens.