REFORMY (220) Party for Sale? (in the CR) XII.

6. září 2015 | 06.27 |

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

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.


Findings of this theses confirm hypothesis that ANO 2011 was the only truly market oriented party during preparation and execution of election campaign to the Chamber of Deputies in 2013 in the Czech Republic. This conclusion was achieved by application of theoretical concepts of political marketing on ANO's marketing activities prior and during the election. The marketing orientation was demonstrated in all campaign phases (market research, product preparation, product adjustment, implementation, communication during the campaign).

ANO's campaign was based on thorough market research. Campaign limitations were in the process of segmentation and targeting. On the other hand, the party was successful in the process of positioning and brand creation.

From the marketing perspective, the most interesting work was done by ANO in the product preparation phase, during which opinion polls and modelling was used extensively. It was also interesting to observe how the party reacted to the changes in the political market. The competitors were much less successful than ANO in attracting attention of voters and media. It is likely that ANO's marketing approach was not just integral part of its successful election campaign, but also dominant and necessary factor. 

ANO with its protest rhetoric was lucky to run for the office in times of people's great disillusionment with traditional parties and with politics in general. Electorate wanted change and Andrej Babiš offered it. He offered hope rather than a concrete program, but the strategy paid off. Findings of this theses show that there was more behind Babiš's success than just sheer quantity of posters and billboards with Babiš's face. The key to ANO's success was the use of carefully selected communication channels and their seamless synchronization. ANO invested heavily in traditional "catch all” marketing methods, but they were also very good in utilizing Internet campaigns on social networks where they successfully targeted their core center-right voters. Although Andrej Babiš and his charisma was the key product, the party soon and successfully utilized his popularity in promoting also other party members.

According to Lees- Marshment model, ANO cannot continue to be market oriented in all of its activities all the time.  However, it seems that ANO's permanent campaign strategy, which included continuous face-to-face rallies with voters already one month after the election, is paying off. Andrej Babiš and his party has been enjoying high popularity even one and a half year after the election.

Other parties which were elected to the Chamber of Deputies (ČSSD, KSČM, TOP 09, ODS, KDU-ČSL AND ÚSVIT) cannot be labeled as market oriented because their use of political marketing methods was limited and inconsistent. Their understanding of political marketing was too narrow as they often confused it with mere advertisement strategies.  

This work contributes to still developing academic research on political marketing in the Czech Republic and provides some background for future detailed analysis. It will be interesting to see whether described trends will repeat in the next election. Considering the growth of political marketing in Czech campaigns, attention should be paid to research on implementation of election strategy and its acceptance by party members. Strategy implementation from the top regardless of the opinion of majority can turn to be unsustainable in the long term and can lead to internal party fragmentation.    

It is expected that all parties will be pushed for increased application of sophisticated methods of political marketing in the future if they want to stay competitive. The need for marketing orientation is increasing because the political market is changing.   

Current developments in times of post-democracy indicate that the classic member-based parties lose significance. Thus party's functions originally ascribed to party members have to be compensated for by processes of professionalization, and by the use of new instruments of communication and external services.

Contemporary advertisement tools use sophisticated tools from psychology, sociology as well as media communication and most people underestimate its power. People naively think that they are rational individuals in all circumstances. They also think that if they are able to recognize the advertisement, they cannot be influenced by it. The truth is that they might still be influenced, even if it is only on sub-conscious level. 

Some believed that "loosening of ideological burden” of political parties was positive characteristic which weakened political fights. However, it turns out that the transformation of political rivalry into more personal and more "advertising” like dimension does not lower intensity of election campaigns. What is more important, it worsens conditions for functional politics to solve many serious problems faced by Western civilization. It is unlikely that necessary reforms will come from advertisement slogans. World is increasingly complex, but methods of political communication are increasingly primitive because they are increasingly targeting emotions rather than a concrete program or solution. This deepening gap can have far-reaching consequences.      

New parties/movements which are very successful already in first election are sometimes called "single-use” parties, referring to low probability of repeating of that success. These parties often profile themselves as protest parties against traditional parties or against the political system in general. The problem is that once they become the part of the establishment their protest appeal is likely to diminish, especially if they are not able or willing to implement those promised changes. In the Czech Republic, this was the case with party Public Affairs (Věci veřejné or VV), which got to the parliament in 2010. VV enjoyed similar success as ANO and ÚSVIT did, but the party dissolved itself even before the end of their term. It will be interesting to watch how the future will develop for successful protest parties of 2013 election. By April of 2015 it seems that ÚSVIT will follow VV's path, but the future for ANO is more opened.   

(Pokračování dalším příspěvkem do diskuse k reformám)

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