TOP 09, Pirates, far-right dominate in mock ‘secondary school elections’
It’s just three weeks now until ballot boxes open across the country, with Czechs going to the polls in early elections to the lower house of parliament. For the past four years the Czech NGO People in Need has been holding mock elections in the country’s secondary schools; this year more than 50,000 pupils voted in a two-day election held in over 400 schools.
For a start the non-parliamentary Pirates Party – which lobbies for, among other things, legal downloading – came in at second place, on seventeen percent. The Social Democrats – who’ve topped every national poll in the country for the last year or so – came fourth. But the project’s co-ordinator, People in Need’s Karel Strachota, says that doesn’t mean the results should be dismissed out of hand. Far from it.
If that’s true then the right-of-centre TOP09, led by the aristocratic Karel Schwarzenberg, is far away their favoured party, emerging in first place, just ahead of the Pirates. There was a surprise result in fifth place; the ultra-nationalist, some say neo-Nazi Workers’ Party of Social Justice, who won 7 percent of the vote. So are seven percent of young Czechs neo-Nazi sympathisers? Hopefully not, says Karel Strachota.
The secondary school elections work like real elections, with classrooms being turned into polling booths and votes cast in urns. Participation is voluntary, and People in Need hope to promote greater interest of young people in public affairs, and increase voter turnout.