According to a political scientist, further polarization awaits Czech society with the crisis

“The deterioration of the economic situation of the majority of people will probably bring a decrease in trust in the governing parties, possibly even greater social unrest and may lead to the strengthening of the currently opposition parties,” said Havlík, who works at the National Institute for Research on Socioeconomic Impacts of Diseases and Systemic Risks (SYRI) in Brno.

SYRI researchers analyzed polarization on the Czech political scene from last year’s parliamentary elections to the present. According to them, last year’s success of the coalition Spolu and Pirátů se Starosty was based on an anti-populist campaign, which was a reaction to ANO and SPD. “However, such a campaign inherently brings risks. The campaign of the election winners was based both on negativity and on the one hand on a highly moralistic and consequently irreconcilable appeal, and like populism it contributes to polarization,” explained Havlík, who analyzed the Czech political scene with colleague Alena Kluknavská in an article for the Journal of Common Market Studies .

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According to experts, the current governing parties have succeeded with their proclaimed emphasis on decent and honest politics, but substantive solutions have receded into the background. “This may disappoint voters for two reasons. Politics itself is not a world of decency and honesty, but a struggle for power, a pragmatic solution to disputes, full of compromises. So this moral appeal can be difficult to fulfill. Secondly, there was not much debate about substantive solutions to topics such as taxes, pensions, transport, the environment or the rights of sexual minorities,” said Havlík.

Further developments will depend on external factors such as energy prices, as well as how the government deals with problems and how the opposition seizes opportunities, according to scientists. “I expect a significant revival of the importance of economic topics and a strengthening of the polarization around them. This is a very big opportunity for ANO, which did not do very well during the pandemic, but thanks to previous macroeconomic growth and a very strong redistributive policy, a large part of voters can be perceived as a competent alternative to the government. After all, he is already trying to get into this role with the help of the campaign It was better for Babiš,” said Havlík.

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According to the scientist, in the Czech environment, which is typical of opposition to traditional parties, space has opened up for so-called centrist populism with an emphasis on apparently non-political or non-party solutions. “This is how Babiš succeeded with the story of a non-political manager who will make the functioning of the state more efficient and replace the corrupt world of political parties,” stated Havlík.

However, ANO is moving forward and taking over the voter base of Social Democracy and the KSČM. According to the expert, older people and those who are economically worse off and expect a strong role of the state are now voting for the movement.

The article is in Czech

Tags: political scientist polarization awaits Czech society crisis

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