REFORMY (216) Party for Sale? (in the CR) VIII.

2. září 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 VIII

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.

ČSSD (Czech Social Democratic Party)

One of ČSSD's campaign topics was against the previous center-right government of Petr Nečas. Party's main slogan was "We Will Establish a Functioning State”. ČSSD emphasized its traditional themes, including progressive taxation, raising the minimum wage, requiring property declaration above certain level of wealth, and raising corporate taxes on certain branches of industry such as banking and energy (Gregor, Macková, 2014).

Party's goal was to convince left wing voters that it can provide guarantees of functioning state and social security. The concept of "well-functioning state” included various sub-topics ranging from increased effectiveness in tax collection up to tax credit for second and third child. The party used opinion polls to choose overall positive message rather than attacking previous right wing government. Normally the party would dedicate more space to criticism, but this time it did not make sense due to the break caused by the interim caretaker government (Chovanec, 2013). Before the campaign, the party ordered market research which included market segmentation. Based on this segmentation, the party targeted population segments which responded well to chosen topics. Another two polls followed during the campaign. These polls helped to determine party's orientation and to adjust campaign as needed.        

ČSSD is considered to be pioneer in the use of sophisticated opinion polls. Long before the election, the party was running regular opinion polls to determine issues which were most pressing for voters. Based on analysis of these issues, the party came up with the slogan about the functioning state. This slogan was also tested in focus groups.

Main executive decision making power on campaign issues had election team headed by Milan Chovanec (2013). According to Chovanec, the party did not work effectively with differentiated target groups due to lack of time. The campaign was trying to reach as broad spectrum as possible. Target group included all Czechs, hence the direct mail was sent to all households without any segmentation. The campaign was centralized, but regional election teams had certain degree of autonomy. Especially through face-to-face campaigns they could accentuate regional issues. However any significant campaign modifications had to be approved by central campaign management. Any discrepancies and breaches of guidelines could be severely punished. The guidelines included advice on candidates' behavior and dress code. For example ties and extravagant jewelry were not recommended by thte dress code (Koutník, 2013). 

Election result was deeply disappointing for the ČSSD who had been consistently predicted by opinion polls in the months before the election to emerge as clear winner. Despite ‘winning' the election, ČSSD's 20.45 per cent represented a 2 per cent decline in its support and was its lowest share in the history of the independent Czech Republic.  As well as falling far short of the party's 25 per cent minimum target vote, 2013 was the second successive election fought in opposition, in which the Social Democrats' vote has declined (Hanley, 2013).  

(to be continued)

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