Survey: Czechs most likely to vote according to party program, leader’s personality

Most Czechs eligible to vote in the October parliamentary elections say that a party’s program will be the deciding factor in how they will cast their ballots, according to a Median survey for Czech Radio. The party leader’s personalities are also important, the survey finds – but none of the current contenders enjoy overwhelming popularity.

Photo: Michaela Danelová,  Czech Radio

One hundred days before the parliamentary elections, sociologists from the Median Agency put a range of questions on political preferences to more than a thousand eligible voters. The pollsters found that election campaigns play the smallest role in for whom most Czechs will likely vote.

“For me, perhaps the most important thing is the party’s past and its chairperson.”

Illustrative photo: Sergio Santos,  Flickr,  CC BY 2.0

“In the end, the most important thing will be the development of a possible coronavirus crisis in September or October, and what approach the parties will take.”

“I decide according to the orientation of the party, so whether it is right-wing or left-wing, and also according to the individual candidates.”

– a few likely voters there, responding to a Czech Radio vox pop on the question of what they will decide in the October elections.

Přemysl Čech | Photo: ČT24

In the Median survey, most respondents – 49 percent – said the political parties’ programs were the most important for them, while individual politicians’ character and charisma also play a major role, Median Agency head Přemysl Čech says.

“Thirty-eight percent of respondents said they will make decisions based on the quality of the leader, his credibility, expertise and ability to lead the company. In 30 percent of cases, people will make decisions based on the quality of the entire candidate. In 16 percent of cases, people decide according to the party’s history.”

Few parties’ recent history is as known as that of ANO, the centrist, technocratic party founded by Prime Minister Andrej Babiš in 2011. According to the Median Agency poll, for the largest share of respondents – 38 percent – he remains the most acceptable party leader to fill that role also after October. At the same time, 57 percent of those surveyed expressed the opposite view.

Illustrative photo: Petr Dušek,  Czech Radio

But then no party leader enjoys majority support, Přemysl Čech says.

“The main conclusion is that no politician is very acceptable overall. As society is differentiated in terms of attitudes, as well as in terms of electoral preferences, at the moment there is not a leader here who would be an acceptable choice for the whole nation.”

This could well mean that Andrej Babiš will again head a minority coalition government – as he now does with the left-leaning Social Democrats, while relying on tolerance from the largely unreformed Communist Party.

Miloš Zeman | Photo: CNN Prima News

In fact, last Sunday, President Miloš Zeman reiterated for CNN Prima News that he would appoint as prime minister the head of the most successful party – and not the leader of a possible winning election coalition.

“In the first phase, I’ll invite the heads of all parliamentary parties here to Lány; in the second phase, I’ll appoint a prime minister; and in the third phase, I’ll give this prime minister enough time to lead demanding coalition negotiations.”

Andrej Babiš | Photo:  Office of Czech Government

Such negotiations could well prove contentious – none of the opposition parties and coalitions doing best in the polls want to be in government with Andrej Babiš. And the Social Democrats and Communists would likely place greater demands upon their continued support.