Thursday, 24 April 2014

MfD: Unemployment played key role in election results

29 January 2013

Prague, Jan 28 (CTK) - The Czech direct presidential election's outcome was clearly determined by people's dissatisfaction with their economic situation which they blame on the right-wing cabinet, rather than the Sudeten German issue, Antonin Viktora writes in daily Mlada fronta Dnes yesterday.

The post-war decrees of Czechoslovak president Edvard Benes, on the basis of which ethnic Germans were transferred from the country after their property was confiscated, were the most discussed issue before the election's January 25-26 second round, Viktora recalls.

The issue was "slyly" tabled by one of the candidates, former socialist PM Milos Zeman. But still it was not the main factor to decide on Zeman's victory over his rival, Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg (TOP 09), Viktora points out.

A thorough analysis of the election results shows that Schwarzenberg was much more harmed by his membership of the unpopular government and his chairmanship of TOP 09, the junior ruling party including Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek, who is extremely unpopular due to the government's austerity steps and what many label anti-social reforms, Viktora writes.

"Zeman's voters approached the election as a clash between the left and the right," says Jan Tucek, sociologist from the STEM/MARK agency.

In the weekend vote, Schwarzenberg lost even in many districts and towns where he won in the first round two weeks ago. Zeman prevailed even in Central Bohemia, where people hardly consider the Benes Decrees vitally important. The only few districts where Schwarzenberg succeeded are paradoxically located in the former Sudetenland, or along the Austrian border, Viktora writes.

Apart from several biggest cities, Schwarzenberg won in the border districts of Liberec, Jablonec nad Nisou and Semily, all north Bohemia, Nachod, east Bohemia, and in the south Bohemian Ceske Budejovice district bordering on Austria.

This is paradoxical because these are the districts where people are supposed to fear the challenging of the Benes Decrees most of all, Viktora writes.

The election results show that voters were determined by the present situation rather than the disputes over the post-war events. Zeman won decisive support in the districts that are afflicted by the economic crisis most of all, Viktora says.

"The Czechs are a left-leaning nation and Zeman won support of typical leftist voters who seek social securities in the hard times," sociologist Jan Herzmann is quoted as saying.

Viktora presents a list of the ten towns in which Zeman achieved the biggest success. All of them are towns with a high unemployment rate, in which, with a single exception, the share of the jobless markedly exceeds the country' average.

The population of these towns has been declining.

Moreover, in all these towns the Social Democrats (CSSD) and the Communists (KSCM) clearly succeeded in the regional elections last autumn. It can be said that a majority of voters in these towns are resolute opponents of the present right-wing government, Viktora writes.

Schwarzenberg's "strongholds" are towns with unusually low unemployment and rising population, Viktora writes.

The list shows that Zeman succeeded the best in Karvina, north Moravia, where he gained 82.4 percent of the vote and where unemployment stands at 15.6 percent.

He was also successful, for example in Orlova, north Moravia (81.8, 13.6), Bystrice pod Perstejnem, south Moravia (76.1, 12.6), Bohumin (75.7, 11.8) and Havirov (74.9. 13.3), both north Moravia.

Schwarzenberg, on his part, scored most points in Prague and small towns near Prague: Ricany (69.4 percent of the vote, 4.1 percent unemployment), Prague (66, 4.9), Hostivice (63.7, 6.2), Celakovice (60.1, 4.3) and Cerveny Kostelec, east Bohemia (60, 5.8).

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