Monday, 23 October 2017

HN: Babiš mobilising voters before general election

ČTK |
5 October 2017

Prague, Oct 4 (CTK) - Czech government ANO chairman Andrej Babis is questioning the poll results predicting high support for his movement to mobilise voters before the October 20-21 general election, Petr Honzejk writes in daily Hospodarske noviny (HN) on Wednesday.

ANO is a clear election favourite that is most likely to win much ahead of other parties, according to all pre-election polls.

However, Babis now claims that his ANO has been losing voters and that the polling agencies estimating his election gain at around 30 percent are wrong, Honzejk says.

"We have substantially less, around 22 or 24 percent, we suppose," Babis said in an interview with the Novinky. cz server.

"What is happening? What's the reason for such sudden modesty? Or has the Lord of Capi Hnizdo succumbed to defeatism? Not at all. This is just an example of smart and creative work with data," Honzejk writes.

He hints at the scandal with the financing of the Capi hnizdo (Stork Nest) luxurious resort, owned by Babis's former concern, in which he is prosecuted on suspicion of an EU subsidy fraud.

Honzejk points out that an election favourite has often gained much less voter support than expected in the Czech Republic in the past years. Jiri Paroubek as Social Democrat (CSSD) leader experienced this in 2010 and current PM Bohuslav Sobotka (CSSD) in 2013.

Czechs tend to turn their back on the favourite at the very last moment and seek other election alternatives probably to prevent any party from winning "too much." This is called an "underdog effect" in political science, Honzejk adds.

Babis naturally knows very well that this might affect him as well in three weeks, and this is why he is logically trying to make an impression that he enjoys much lower support than he actually does. Since if he looks weaker than he is, the hesitating voters will more likely vote for his ANO.

And because Babis's theory says he is losing support due to a defamatory campaign against him, he may also win other voters by provoking their compassion, Honzejk points out.

Of course, Babis is not the only one to work with data creatively. Smaller parties, for instance, are aware that if their preferences fall under the 5-percent parliamentary threshold in some polls, this might be "lethal" for them because of "the effect of a lost vote."

This is why the opposition TOP 09, Pirates as well as the Mayors and Independents (STAN) highlight the polls according to which they would enter parliament, Honzejk writes.

"In general, you can think whatever you want about particular opinion polls and it might be true as well. However, watch out if a politician is attempting to impose some data on you," Honzejk writes.

Polls are no dead data. They might be even means to influence election results actively, Honzejk concludes.

Copyright 2015 by the Czech News Agency (ČTK). All rights reserved.
Copying, dissemination or other publication of this article or parts thereof without the prior written consent of ČTK is expressly forbidden. The Prague Daily Monitor is not responsible for its content.