“Together” forever? What next for electoral alliances?

The three-party Together

The Together alliance of three centre-right parties would receive 28.5 percent of the vote in general elections, suggests a poll released on Sunday. Behind them would be the Pirates and Mayors, who also contested elections last year together. Forming the two alliances helped the five parties enter government – but does it make sense for them to continue indefinitely? I spoke to political scientist Petr Just.

“I think their decision to run together as alliances, as pre-electoral coalitions, was very much pragmatic – in order to avoid any split in the vote against Andrej Babiš.

“I think it’s very likely that any kind of alliance will be used in further elections as well.

“I say ‘any kind’ of alliance, because right now we probably can’t be sure that it will be the same alliances.

Campaign of ANO | Photo: Czech Television

“Maybe the parties in the Together alliance are more likely to continue on this platform, because they are not only connected pragmatically – they are also more connected programmatically and ideologically.

“While the other alliance, the Mayors and Pirates, are let’s say more pragmatic than programmatic partners.

“So there I see the potential in future that they might choose a different partner, or maybe they can somehow remodify their cooperation.

“Maybe they could add some other party to the alliance.”

For these parties who ran together in these alliances, what are the advantages, or the dangers, of continuing to stay together?

“For the Civic Democrats, the advantage of this alliance is that they – despite being a strong party – are not as strong as their nearest challenger, the ANO party of Andrej Babiš.

“So for the Civic Democrats this partnership brings them extra votes, extra percentages, which brings them closer to ANO.

“For the two junior, smaller parties – the Christian Democrats and TOP 09 – being partners of the Civic Democrats keeps them as relevant actors in the Czech party system.

Petr Just | Photo: ČT24

“Because as we’ve seen in some polls, if these two parties are counted individually they would probably have a hard time getting into the Chamber of Deputies just on their own.

“Of course the disadvantage here is always that very loyal voters of each of the political parties might see it as diverting from some original principles upon which the party is based.

“Because always when you enter some political alliance, you need to make compromises, you need to give up some of your agenda, or you need to put some of your agenda which used to be a priority on the back burner, as they say.

“So some voters might see it as a weakening of the party’s original ideology.

“However, I think most of the voters of these three political parties understand the pragmatism of this alliance, and I don’t feel that any of these three parties would be losing voters just because it entered the alliance.

“But the threat is always there.”

In municipal elections in September Together are running on the same ticket in some constituencies and not in others. Is that confusing for voters? Or is it just normal politics?

“As I said, even the formation of the alliance on the national level was a pragmatic step – and the same I think principle applies on the local level as well.

“There are some regions where, let’s say, the Christian Democratic Party feels strong enough to run independently – or where the two parties would be some feeling that they should be the leader of the joint alliance.

“But none of them wants to step back and allow the other one to be the leader.

“Of course from the nationwide perspective it might seem a bit confusing, but I think that the people who vote in that particular city or region would not feel confused.

“Because they know the situation in their community.”