Not everyone goes to the municipal elections

Not everyone goes to the municipal elections
Not everyone goes to the municipal elections

“I used to go to vote, but due to how corrupt the entire regime is, I haven’t voted in the last two or three years. In my opinion, individual responsibility is lost in the political hierarchy, and why should I vote for people I absolutely do not know?” the fifty-year-old non-voter from Prague described his attitude to the editors.

Municipal elections are traditionally among those in which voters are less interested. More than half of eligible voters will not cast their vote (see the green curve below in the graph). Even fewer people go to regional or European elections.

“In municipal elections, politicians still manage to convince voters that it is worth coming to vote, especially compared to senate or European elections. At the same time, they often don’t have the same means to conduct campaigns as they do in other elections,” says political scientist Petr Jüptner from FSV UK.

There are many reasons why people do not come to the polls. According to sociologist Lukáš Link from the AV Institute of Sociology, most people don’t go because they are not interested in politics, or as a manifestation of dissatisfaction with the entire system. “Half of the non-voters will tell you that they don’t have time to vote, or that they couldn’t choose between the candidates, but despite their presentation, there is actually distrust or lack of interest behind it,” says Linek.

However, administrative obstacles can also be among the reasons. In the case of municipal elections, for example, you can only vote in your place of permanent residence. It is not possible to get a voter’s card.

Photo: CZSO

Voter turnout by type of election, source: CZSO.

How to read the chart: P.S – parliamentary elections, PE – presidential election, ZO – elections to municipal councils, SE – senate elections, KZ – elections to regional councils, EP – elections to the European Parliament, CNR – elections to the Czech National Council (1990 and 1992), REF – referendum on joining the European Union (2003).

In addition, the right to vote in the Czech Republic is tied to permanent residence, and there are cases when people cancel their permanent residence in the Czech Republic. This is intended for people who are moving abroad, but it is also used by people with foreclosures who remain in the country, for example.

“This is a relatively significant group of people who do not have the opportunity to vote at all,” points out the sociologist.

People without a permanent residence in the Czech Republic can register on a special voter list at an embassy abroad, but only in the case of parliamentary and presidential elections.

According to Link, the ability to vote can also be significantly limited for people living in institutions such as nursing homes or prisons.

Crossing is not circling

How to proceed if do you want to use preference crosses for specific personalities in municipal elections?

Why the crossing in large cities and urban districts in the vast majority it has no effect?

The least number of people usually go to the elections to the European Parliament, the Senate or the regional councils, usually around 30% of eligible voters. A little more people, about 45%, vote for councils of cities and municipalities. And elections to the Chamber of Deputies and presidential elections traditionally have the highest turnout with an average of 65 and 62 percent, respectively.

According to data from the Czech Statistical Office from last year’s elections to the Chamber of Deputies, voter turnout is higher the smaller the city or municipality in which the election is held. While in municipalities with less than 249 inhabitants, 70% of eligible voters voted last year, in cities with more than 35,000 it was only 63%.

The same is the case with municipal elections. “In larger municipalities, voters usually do not identify with the political representation as much as in small municipalities, where by voting they also show their belonging to the local community,” described Jüptner.

Voter turnout by region in the 2018 municipal elections
region voter turnout (%)
Capital City of Prague 46.44
Central Bohemian Region 50.6
South Bohemian region 49.96
Pilsen Region 47.8
Karlovy Vary Region 40.36
Usti Region 40.32
Liberec region 45,44
Hradec Kralove region 49.65
Pardubice region 50.58
Highlands region 53.82
South-Moravian region 49.72
Olomouc region 47.16
Zlín Region 49.77
Moravian-Silesian Region 41.72
In total 47.34

There are also more young people who choose not to vote. In 2013, their participation was eight percent less than the total, in 2017 it was nine percent. There was a marked improvement last year, when 63% of 18-34-year-olds voted, just two percentage points lower than the overall turnout.

However, this trend will probably not be reflected in the upcoming municipal elections. “A very close result was expected in the parliamentary elections, so the opposition parties at the time were particularly successful in mobilizing the electorate,” explained Jüptner. “However, municipal and parliamentary elections are incomparable in terms of participation,” he added.

Compared to neighboring countries, we have non-voters, similar to Slovakia, where almost 66% of voters came to the last parliamentary elections. In Poland it was 61%. The situation is better in Germany and Austria, where well over 70% of eligible voters go to the polls in the long term.

The article is in Czech

Tags: municipal elections

NEXT ONLINE: The city of Lyman is surrounded by Ukrainians, reports the local army command. The Russian side denies this iRADIO