Poll suggests majority of Czechs would prefer early elections as way out of crisis

Photo: Kristýna Maková

Earlier this week, the country’s president, Miloš Zeman, suggested that early elections would be the more expensive option out of the current government crisis, costing around 500 million crowns and sweeping key legislation off the table. So far, it appears his words had little effect. A new poll commissioned by Czech Radio, suggests that early elections – as a way forward – are favoured by a majority of Czechs.

Photo: Kristýna Maková
According to the new poll conducted by the Median agency, a full 55 percent of Czechs prefer early elections as a way out of the current crisis – not a technocratic interim government or a continuation of the former coalition under a new prime minister. The country is desperately awaiting a solution, one which should become apparent next Tuesday when President Miloš Zeman announces which option he favours. Theoretically he could name coalition candidate Miroslava Němcová or someone else as the prime minister designate; beginning this Friday, representatives of the parties in the Chamber of Deputies are meeting with the president to that end: to persuade him their solution is the most effective. But he will keep his own council, giving no indication which way he will choose.

The fact that Czechs favour early elections, strengthened by the recent scandal which brought down the government, is part of a longer trend, says sociologist Daniel Prokop. He points out that similar results appeared in a poll last month – ahead of recent developments.

Even before a corruption and spying scandal brought down the cabinet, the sociologist suggests, many had already made up their minds about the centre-right coalition.

A month ago we had similar results which showed that half of potential voters wanted the government out, and were in favour of early elections. Many people had already lost trust or harboured resentment towards the government. These are sentiments that ran deeper than just the latest scandal.

Photo: Filip Jandourek,  ČRo
According to the survey, those most in favour of early elections are voters on the political left, while right-wing supporters would prefer to see a new prime minister revive the current coalition and see unfinished work completed. But even there, centre-right voters are beginning to change their minds. Sociologist Daniel Prokop maintains that right-wing voters are slowly becoming more divided, suggesting that 30 or 40 percent who voted for the Civic Democrats are beginning to lean towards early elections. If it is true, it is not a good sign for the party.

Meanwhile, there was more apparent bad news on Friday for the Civic Democrats if it does come to early elections: a separate poll conducted by ppm factum suggests that if they were held today, the once dominant right-wing party in Czech politics would gain only eight percent – an historic low. That would leave the scandal-hit party with only 18 MPs in the lower house, a full 35 fewer than now.