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The misery of Czech politics

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A cheap-looking TV Products commercial promoting swimming pool filtration on the public television channel ČT1 switches very smoothly to pre-election clips of parties running for European parliament, but there is almost no formal, aesthetic or mental difference from the previous commercial. Actually, it’s even worse.

The pre-election video clips also mostly offer prompt help from all bad things, but the help is not decisive and clear at all. It’s rather like a lazy afternoon by a swimming pool with that calmly purring filtration system and with the jingle from the Family Frost ice-cream truck disturbing you for a little while.

A clear choice: We belong on the margins
The clips don’t make it clear what group they target. It is definitely not because parties have no idea of who their voters are, but because they rather decided to rely on the lowest common denominator in order to cover as wide spectrum as possible – therefore, saying nothing in particular.

That’s the reason why most parties have chosen the image of DIY programmes, or possibly home videos and freeware programmes, for the onscreen text. And made it clear where the Czech Republic belongs in terms of culture: to the periphery.

That’s where the topics and the vocabulary are heading for as well. Although it is a European election, the clips deal almost exclusively with protection of “our” and “domestic” things – accompanied by images of the Prague Castle or rivers.

But the poor quality also stems from the knowledge that the core of the campaign at present does not take place within the time provided by the public media. Parties cannot afford not to supply a video clip. But politicians know that they can present themselves much more effectively in interviews and discussions in which they can more easily separate themselves from the monotonous masses. Let alone the fact that guerilla tactics, smear posters and billboards have a bigger effect than a vigorous effort to present monotonously murmuring heads – which only differ in the quality of processing and image.

A warning message
If we include the internet presentation in our comparison, then the ČSSD is the winner when it comes to what it wants to say and how successfully it does so.

It offers at least an attempt at a joke, even though it is typically confrontational and empty. I will vote for the ODS because I like the way it exploits people, typical ČSSD voters say in the clip. But, when the candidates start talking, they come up with an explanation for the voters’ statements: No way, just kidding.

At the top of the visual quality ladder is the Věci veřejné (Public Matters) party, which presents a good dynamic clip that, unfortunately, however, only tells potential voters that the party had the best film editor.

And then it’s just an interchangeable lineup of men and women, in which nothing but a few unintentionally funny clips and a perfect demonstration of racism by the National Party can attract the viewer’s attention.

Many of the photographs used by the National Party have circulated on the internet for years in prankster circles, many of them even come from abroad, and the graphics, with white sheep kicking a black sheep off the country, have been stolen from Swiss nationalists. The clip creates an atmosphere of aggressive hate – and that’s paradoxically and alarmingly the most clear message that any of the parties was able to come up with here.

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