Politicians' wives on campaign billboards

The wife of Social Democrat Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek, Zuzana Paroubkova, says that she is willing to participate in the upcoming election campaign. If she does, she won't be alone: the head of the main opposition party, the Civic Democrats, has already made it clear his wife will appear with him on billboards around the country. But why have the two leaders hit upon this kind of campaign, which doesn't have much precedent in the Czech Republic?

Zuzana Paroubkova is a modern woman with many responsibilities. She volunteers at a childrens' home, and runs her own household without hired help even though she is now the prime minister's wife. What's more, Zuzana Paroubkova told Tuesday's edition of Pravo that she is seriously considering joining her husband's campaign team as the Social Democrats run for re-election this June.

Mirek Topolanek, the chairman of the Civic Democrats has already said that his campaign will include billboards featuring his wife, Pavla Topolankova. And now Zuzana Paroubkova is joining the campaign team of her husband's Social Democrats. Jiri Pehe, a political analyst, offers his view on a campaign strategy featuring the wives of party leaders:

"Well, I think that it is not bad to have a family member participating in the election campaign. It is a strategy that is usually very well received and in some western democracies it is quite common, while in the past in the Czech Republic it was not very common; politicians tended to hide their wives and family members. So I think it's a strategy that can actually have some positive appeal with the voters."

Do you anticipate that this will have some great effect on the Czech population?

"I don't think it will have a great effect, but at the same time I think that it is to the advantage to both Mr. Paroubek and Mr. Topolanek if they are portrayed as family people, people who are contrary to what is common in Czech political life, people who are proud of their families and their wives. We don't see this very often with Czech politicians."