With poll placing them second on 15%, what are Pirates doing right?

Czech Pirate Party leader Ivan Bartoš, photo: Luboš Vedral / Czech Radio

A freshly published opinion poll suggests the Czech Pirate Party are currently the second most popular political grouping in the country, with 15 percent support. That’s four percent more than the pro-transparency party received in October when they entered the lower house for the first time. So what are the Pirates doing right? That’s a question I put to political scientist Jiří Pehe.

Czech Pirate Party leader Ivan Bartoš,  photo: Luboš Vedral / Czech Radio
“I think the Pirates are successful simply because they are seen as fresh blood in Czech politics.

“At the same time while we have some other new movements, this is quite clearly a democratic movement.

“It has democratic structures, ways of deciding about things and so on. It is not a one-man party.

“That makes the Pirates attractive I think especially for young people.

“It is also their agenda, which of course differs from the traditional parties.

“They put an emphasis on issues that are also at the centre of young people’s attention.

“That is why they score especially with the young generation.”

Would it be fair to say that the Pirates have become one of the most effective opposition parties in the Czech Republic?

“Well I think that the Pirates have a problem in how they want to play the opposition role.

“They have positioned themselves between the so-called traditional parties and one-man movements, such as ANO or Okamura’s Freedom and Direct Democracy.

“That makes it very difficult for them to be an effective opposition, because if they want to keep their identity they have to somehow contrast what they do with the traditional parties, but at the same time they have to be in opposition to the strongest party in the Czech Republic at the present time, that is the ANO movement.

Jiří Pehe | Photo: Jana Trpišovská,  Czech Radio
“Maybe they just need to decide which evil, so to speak, is lesser and play that kind of game, because their opposition role is one thing that is not quite comprehensible to a lot of people.”

They’re a relatively new force in Czech politics and perhaps they’re going through a kind of honeymoon period. Do you think they’re a party that is here to stay?

“I was convinced when the Pirates entered parliamentary politics that this is one of the parties that will be around for one electoral period, just for a few months, and it will go away, just like other one-issue parties.

“But it seems that the Pirates are not just a one-issue party. They really have a programme that covers a broad spectrum of issues and problems.

“And at the same time I think that they are striking a chord, so to speak, with young people because of their openness and the way they talk about politics.

“They aren’t using the stale, cumbersome language that we hear from traditional parties, or the kind of language that we hear from one-man parties, such as ANO.”