REFORMY (180) Party for Sale? (in the CR) IV.

28. červenec 2015 | 07.00 |

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

0pt;mso-fareast-language: X-NONE">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.

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.

Political market in the Czech Republic

Communication techniques between individuals and organizations are developing quickly. Economic as well as political activity is significantly affected by it. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Czech Republic together with other post-communist countries underwent rapid political changes. This quick evolution of political markets gives us unique opportunity to compare the development of Czech political market with the development in older Western democracies and other post-communist countries in the region. In the Czech Republic, as well as in Poland and Hungary, political competition of parties developed successfully without excessive populism. The development of competition was much less successful in Russia or Ukraine where corruption, nationalism and populism were much more prevalent (Beznosov, 2007).

General Aspects of the Electoral System

Despite its short history, political system in the Czech Republic is one of the most stable and consolidated among other post-soviet countries (Beznosov, 2007, Eibl and Matuskova 2009).

The Parliament of the Czech Republic consists of a lower house, the Chamber of Deputies, and an upper house, the Senate. The Chamber of Deputies has greater legislative power than the Senate: bills passed by the Chamber of Deputies but rejected by the Senate become law if they are approved on a subsequent Chamber of Deputies vote by absolute majority.

The Chamber of Deputies is composed of 200 members directly elected by universal adult suffrage every four years. Originally, each one of the Czech Republic's seven geographic regions plus the capital city of Prague was an electoral region where political parties and coalitions of parties presented lists of candidates. This arrangement lasted until 2002, when an amendment to the electoral law increased the number of electoral regions to fourteen: the country's new thirteen self-governing regions along with Prague. Voters may indicate a preference for up to four (previously two) candidates in one list.

Chamber seats are allocated among the electoral regions in proportion to the number of valid votes cast in a general election. Before 2002, seats were initially distributed in each electoral region among qualifying lists by the Hagenbach-Bischoff method of proportional representation (PR); if there remained unfilled mandates, these were allocated at the national level according to the lists' unused vote totals, first by the Hagenbach-Bischoff method and then by the largest remainder method. However, the 2002 electoral law amendment introduced the largest average method - the D'Hondt rule - for the apportionment of Chamber seats in each region among competing lists; all Chamber mandates are now allocated in the electoral regions, so there is no longer a nationwide distribution of unfilled seats.

In order to participate in the distribution of constituency seats, a party must obtain at least five percent of all valid votes cast at the national level, while coalitions of two, three and four or more parties are required to obtain at least ten, fifteen and twenty percent of the vote (previously seven, nine and eleven percent), respectively. List seats are allocated to candidates in the order in which they appear on the list, but candidates receiving at least five (previously seven and originally ten) percent of the total number of votes cast for their party have priority in the allocation of seats, regardless of their position on the list.

The Senate is composed of 81 members elected for a six-year term of office in single-member constituencies by the runoff voting system. Candidates who obtain an absolute majority of valid votes cast are elected in the first round. Otherwise, a runoff election is held between the top two candidates. In the second round, the candidate that obtains the largest number of votes is elected to office. One-third of the members of the Senate are elected every two years (Parliament of the Czech Republic, 2015).

A political subject can compete in the elections if it pays 15,000 crowns in each district where it is nominated (the cost for all districts is 210,000 crowns). All parties which get at least 1.5 percent of valid votes receive state subsidy of 100 crowns for each valid vote. Parties which get over 3 percent receive additional subsidy. Czech citizens can vote from abroad. In such case the votes are distributed to the districts by a draw.

(to be continued)

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