Thursday, 24 April 2014

Analysts: Presidential election result may differ from polls

8 January 2013

Prague, Jan 7 (CTK) - Opinion polls on the popularity of the Czech presidential candidates running in the forthcoming direct election may markedly differ from the real results of the voting, according to political analysts whom CTK addressed Monday.

Miroslav Mares said he believes the opinion polls may not correspond to the outcome of the election whose first round is due next weekend.

The second round, to which the two most successful will advance unless one of them wins a majority, is scheduled for January 25-26.

Analyst Josef Mlejnek supported Mares's view. He said the opinion polls and election models should not be overestimated.

Analyst Tomas Lebeda said he can see no reason to challenge opinion polls but that the polls of course may not be good guesses of the result.

He recalled that opinion polls held before Czech parliamentary elections in the past had not got the outcome right.

Mares challenged the fact that Jan Fischer (unaffiliated) and Milos Zeman (Party of Citizens' Rights, SPOZ) are considered the two favourites who would advance from the first round.

Mlejnek said a number of people realise that Zeman and Fischer seem likely to meet in the second round and many of them may not like it. These people may take a pragmatic step and try to help some other candidate advance to the second round, for example Karel Schwarzenberg (TOP 09) or Vladimir Franz (unaffiliated), he added.

Mlejnek said this is one of the reasons why he considers the opinion polls only a general guideline.

Lebeda said it is more difficult to estimate the outcome of a vote on individual personalities than on parties with which voters identify in the long term, for example certain income groups act more or less predictably.

Mares agreed with this.

Mlejnek noted that polling agencies themselves admit that the polls may be less accurate than those related to parliamentary elections.

Mares noted that the turnout, now unknown, may influence the outcome.

According to Mlejnek, many voters have not made up their minds.

Mares pointed out that this will be the first direct presidential election organised in the Czech Republic and it is unclear how the citizens would act - whether they would express their protest in the first round or cast their vote for their favourite candidate already in the first round.

He said the citizens as well as the authorities, polling agencies and public relations agencies have little experience with the direct presidential election.

Lebeda said it is not good to choose the candidates most popular in opinion polls for influential television discussions because media may influence the election's result in this way.

He said it is hard to guess how popularity of the two candidates advancing to the second round would change after the first round, in which the other seven candidates would be eliminated.

Mlejnek said he does not expect any of the nine candidates to withdraw from the presidential contest and support another candidate before the first round opening on Friday. Such recommendations would be made only before the second round, he said.

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