Thursday, 24 April 2014

Study: Young Czechs may decide election in favour of Schwarzenberg

22 January 2013

Prague, Jan 21 (CTK) - Young voters will decide on the result of the Czech presidential election, according to an analysis released by the Semantic Visions firm, which showed that Karel Schwarzenberg will win if young voters massively participate in the run-off vote, otherwise Milos Zeman will be the winner.

Zeman (Citizens' Rights Party, SPOZ), former socialist prime minister, and Schwarzenberg, foreign minister and conservative TOP 09 party chairman, advanced from the first round of the direct election and will clash in the second round on January 25-26.

Zeman and his supporters have conducted a very negative campaign on the Internet in the past days, said Semantic Visions that has analysed hundreds of thousands of online articles and texts on social networks.

Using a method that is allegedly 80-percent reliable, Semantic Visions have monitored 1760 online sources, mainly news servers, blogs and Facebook, from October 1, 2012 to January 20, 2013.

The analysis showed that both Zeman and Schwarzenberg were mentioned in about 28,000 articles and blogs.

Almost 3300 of which were favourable to Zeman and almost 1340 unfavourable. In the case of Schwarzenberg, the ratio was 2694-1232.

The programme assessed the remaining articles as neutral or unidentifiable in terms of affinity.

The number of negative remarks about Schwarzenberg has mainly risen in the past week, up to 90 a day, Semantic Vision's expert Frantisek Vrabel said.

The number of negative remark about Zeman reaches about 45 a day.

The number of articles mentioning Zeman and Schwarzenberg positively is approximately the same.

Negative remark about Schwarzenberg occur more often on blogs rather than news servers' articles and they are linked to issues such as nationalism and the Benes Decrees, on which the two candidates sharply clashed in a recent public debate.

A similar trend can also be registered on Facebook, where the number of negative remarks about Schwarzenberg has risen recently.

Nevertheless, Schwarzenberg's supporters and positive comments on him still clearly prevail on Facebook.

This proves, Vrabel said, that the negative campaign launched by Zeman's supporters has not had the planned effect.

"Zeman did his best, but it was a campaign imposed from above, which did not meet a real response among Facebook users," Vrabel said, adding that Schwarzenberg owes his prevalence to the fact that young people prevail on Facebook.

It is just the young voters, activated by the social networks, who might decide on the run-off vote's results if "a larger number" of them takes part in the election, Vrabel said.

From the first round on January 11-12, Zeman emerged victorious with 24.21 percent of the vote, narrowly followed by Schwarzenberg with 23.40 percent. They defeated other seven candidates. Schwarzenberg's success was a surprise because the previous public opinion polls did not present him as a favourite. His popularity steeply increased at the beginning of the year, shortly before the first round.

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