Turning Red?

Public opinion research is generally discredited in the Czech Republic. Many people suspect that it manipulates rather than monitors public opinion. In most cases the ones harboring such suspicions were left-wing politicians and non-parliamentary parties who saw such research papers as the decisive factor in the pre-election struggle for the undecided voters. Specifically they applied this assumption to the „fifth party“ case.

In the Czech electoral system, there were always five parties to pass the five percent quorum. It can be practically regarded as a law, having even possibly a mathematical background in the specific numbers of voters inside the districts, the specific number of districts and the specific version of method applied for vote conversion and in relation to the quorum itself.

However, in the majority of recent Czech political history four of the parties remained the same and the fifth one changed from election to election, being a party formed or utterly transformed not long before the respective election in all cases. All the „fifth parties“ were allegedly centrist (or even left-wing such as the Greens) and essentially right-wing being therefore a decisive factor in Czech politics. An even more decisive factor was which non-parliamentary party would be the „fifth one“. This had a lot to do with the voter´s fear of throwing away the vote.

Very recently public opinion research caused disarray inside Czech public circles. This time the ones questioning it were the right-wing government parties. Why? Because the most recent research paper produced by the CVVM (Centre for Public Opinion Research) agency has shown surprisingly growing support for the communists. They are already approaching one fifth of all the votes.

Not only that, but according to the researchers as well as most others, the social democrats would win decisively. They would probably be able to form a majority in parliament with the communists and only with them. Or with at least two of the other parties. That means with at least some of the parties currently in the gorvernment. However, a coalition with the right is nearly unimaginable for the social democrats right now. The only probable solution would be to get some form of support from the far left for a purely social democratic government. This of course would mean new legitimacy for the communists twenty years after their regime collapsed.

It also resembles the pace at which strongly left-wing ideas gain support elsewhere throughout Europe. France is a good example. However, the Czech communist chairman, Vojtěch Filip, does not resemble Mélenchon at all. He is rather quiet. Even during this week´s Czech TV interview he almost tried not to give any straightforward answers. The point was not in his answers though. It was in the questions, sent by viewers via Facebook, Twitter, Skype and other networks. That means in the questions, formulated by those who use these networks in the Czech Republic, not by the underclasses. The most frequent of all these questions was whether and how the communists would punish the crimes of the current regime and of the government.

It is time to ask another serious question, and that is whether we are facing a flashback to the forties or a broader crisis of confidence in our political system. Or, whether our crisis is purely economic or whether it has something to do with politics and with the polity as well. And if so, then what? If we do not ask, something may come anyway, because when watching the news even the most silent majority members are apparently turning red.

published: 21. 4. 2013