REFORMY (179) Party for Sale? (in the CR) III.

27. červenec 2015 | 08.03 |

Party for Sale? Political Marketing in the Czech Republic in the context of Election to the Chamber of Deputies in 2013 - Part III

Aleš Drahokoupil

One of the best Diploma´s Thesis defended this academic year belongs to Aleš Drahokoupil. The Thesis was elaborated within the project Specific Research at University of Finance and Administration. It describes very well the social context of "pro-communication” reforms in terms of political marketing tools. Due to the fact, that the work is written in English, it is also available to international readers. I publish several sequels of selected passages within series of reforms.

0pt;mso-fareast-language:X-NONE; mso-bidi-font-weight:bold">Jedna z nejlepších diplomových prací obhájená v letošním roce patří Aleši Drahokoupilovi. Byla zpracována v rámci projektu SVV na VŠFS. Velmi dobře popisuje společenský kontext "prokomunikování" reforem z hlediska nástrojů politického marketingu. Vzhledem k tomu, že je v angličtině, je dostupná i zahraničním čtenářům. Uveřejňuji na několik pokračování vybrané pasáže v rámci seriálu o reformách. Dnes uveřejňuji část zabývající se výzkumem politického marketingu a jeho vazbami na praxi u nás.

Political Market in the Czech Republic

Current research on political marketing and political communication in the Czech Republic is not very extensive. The discipline is developing academically as well as in practice. Many people still have very narrow understanding of political marketing as they perceive it merely as a way to organize election campaigns or just as an election advertisement.

According to comparative research, critical, apathetic or even anomic attitudes towards politics are growing among public and support for democracies in general is decreasing. The cause of this development is not clear (Beznosov, 2007). Citizens in the Czech Republic have been often dissatisfied with democratic institutions which emerged after the collapse of Soviet Union.

One of the reasons why public cynicism towards politicians is growing is the struggle between politicians and journalists to control the campaign agenda (Beznosov, 2007). Voters are often indifferent because of negative campaigning and because politicians ignore voters' needs and real issues.       

Beznosov (2007) argues that in contemporary world "...individuals lose social and ideological identifications and become pseudo-free customers (buyers). This eventually leads to a formation of mass free markets of electorate.” It is more difficult to understand voters due to, "Increasing functional differentiation and social fragmentation”. Political parties are losing their importance as they move from ideological bases to opinion bases. Due to the impact of media, leaders are becoming more important than policy proposals. This further weakens the role of political parties. This process of personalization of politics can be observed also in the Czech Republic where new ‘one person' political parties are booming. In the last parliamentary election in 2013 there were two such parties, Andrej Babiš's movement ‘Ano 2011' and Tomio Okamura's ÚSVIT. These new political entities even call themselves movements instead of parties which further suggests the decline and unpopularity of political parties. Some observers call these entities marketing projects. Because these new parties have very few members, there is little influence on the leaders from the bottom up. As the role of political parties decreases in general, those parties no longer serve as a guide for voters in the political arena. It is also harder for party‘s constituents to communicate their views through their parties. Television and talk radio have taken on that job (Grossman, 1995).

Political parties and political elites in the Czech Republic are currently losing much credibility and trust among the population. This development is not unique for the Czech Republic as it affects also Western polities and other post-socialist countries. Schedler (1994) refers to this situation as political dissatisfaction or "antipolitics”. On the left as well as on the right side of the political spectrum new movements and populist actors attract large number of supporters which are able to provide alternative symbolic frameworks for identification. 

ANO 2011 is perfect example of another characterization of modern politics and that is "scientificization” of politics. The term "scientificization” was coined by sociologist Habermas in 1960s and describes common use of experts, technicians and scientists in the political field (Beznosov, 2007). Using experts and experienced businessman to manage the country instead of politicians was one of ANO's main political agendas.      

(to be continued)

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