REFORMY (181) Party for Sale? (in the CR) V.

29. 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 VAleš 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.

The role of political parties

In general, evolution of political parties in Western civilization starts with free groups of elites (in terms of occupation and wealth based somewhere else than in politics). Another stage includes mass parties which were generally represented by some specifically defined social group with many members and affiliated organizations (e.g. trade unions). No later than in 1960s, since the beginning of welfare state, class barriers weakened and television has become main medium. In that time the process of "ideological emptying” of parties and decreasing role of party membership has started. Till then the parties resembled churches in many aspects, but they started to incline to model in which they resembled companies. These new parties communicate with voters through media and marketing. They have smaller membership base because it is more convenient for them. Contemporary society is more and more homogenous – in social class, in values as well as in opinions. The rise of so called "catch all” parties is not coincidence. Ideological unambiguity is harmful in this concept because it reduces potential political market. The latest variation of this trend is followed by so called business parties or party-companies which are organized just like firms. Prototype of such firm is Berlusconi's formation Forza Italia (Mlejnek, 2014). Parties resembling this type entered Czech Chamber of Deputies for the first time in 2010 (Věci Veřejné and TOP09).

Overview of the election to the Chamber of Deputies in 2013

Voters in the Czech Republic went to the polls in early legislative elections on 25-26 October 2013. The election followed collapse of previous government in June, amid personal and political scandal, of the minority center-right government of Petr Nečas and the subsequent failure of a technocrat administration imposed by President Miloš Zeman to win a parliamentary vote of confidence.

As in the previous May 2010 elections, the result saw losses for established parties and breakthroughs by new anti-establishment groupings campaigning on platforms of fighting corruption, renewing politics and making government work better. However, the 2013 results represent a decisive breach in the Czech Republic's previously stable pattern of party politics whose four main pillars – pro-market conservatives, Social Democrats, Christian Democrats and Communists – made it arguably Central and Eastern Europe's best approximation to a West European style party system. The new political landscape that has emerged is both fluid and highly fragmented, with no fewer than seven parties now represented in the Chamber of Deputies.

The biggest losers in the election were parties of the Czech center-right: the Civic Democrats (ODS) formerly led by Nečas and TOP09, the party led by the Czech Republic's aristocratic former foreign minister Karel Schwarzenberg. The once dominant ODS founded in 1991 by Václav Klaus to bring British-style Thatcherite free market conservatism to Czech lands was cut down to a mere 7 per cent of the vote. As a party less implicated in the engrained corruption that had damaged ODS electorally, TOP09 fared better slipping from 16 per cent to just under 12 per cent support.  However, the party failed to repeat its success in January's presidential elections when Schwarzenberg's candidacy successively united a broad coalition of liberal and center-right voters against the left-wing challenge of Miloš Zeman. The Christian Democrats (KDU-ČSL) who had dropped out of parliament in 2010 – staged a modest recovery returning to the Chamber of Deputies with 6 per cent support.  ‘Heads Up!' the conservative euro-sceptic bloc endorsed by Václav Klaus, polled a humiliating 0.42 per cent (Hanley, 2013).

(to be continued)

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