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Experts: Campaign before general election is rather dull

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Prague, Oct 17 (CTK) – The political campaigning before this weekend’s Czech general election was more professional than before, but parties often do not seem to know how to address a selected group of people and how to make their campaigns striking, according to experts whom CTK has addressed.

Political scientist Jan Kubacek said the campaigns were rather dull. “Though parties are fighting for nearly one third of undecided and hesitating voters this year, which has been something unprecedented since 1990, the campaigns of most of them are absolutely dull, interchangeable in style and contents, without the appropriate emotion and adequate culmination,” he said.

The parties are not telling people why they should cast their votes, Kubacek said.

“The only issue of most parties is the relation to Andrej Babis and his cases,” he said.

Billionaire Babis is the leader of the ANO movement which is the clear election favourite. The police prosecute him over a suspected EU subsidy fraud.

Political scientist Anna Shavit, from the Faculty of Social Sciences of Charles University, said parties have access to a lot of data but they are often incapable of applying them and set a strategy according to these data.

“Parties have information, but they do not know how to process it. This is related to the fact that there are no databases of voters and precise targetting is practically impossible,” she said.

Many voters will make up their mind only in the last moments before the election, which means that the televised political debates may influence the result, Shavit told CTK.

Expert in political marketing Karel Kominek said specialists in communication have become more involved in the creation of the campaigns and social networking websites are playing a bigger role.

Martin Joachymstal, who also specialises in political marketing, said politicians travel across the country a lot now. “In the past, politics mostly talked about meeting people and actually visited only a few friendly regions. Never before have we seen so many politicians at festivals, cultural and social events. These events replaced the traditional political meetings in squares,” he said.

Kubacek appreciated the campaigns of the Pirates and Freedom and Direct Democracy (SPD) of Tomio Okamura. “Both campaigns managed to attractively simplify the election programme and skilfully get it among the potential voters. These campaigns were original enough, dynamic and they reached the voters. They managed to trump even the election campaigning of the ANO movement,” he said.

Kominek also praised the two above parties. The Pirates were creative which corresponded to their young target group and the SPD worked with the prejudices of their target group very well, he said.

Kominek said the election spots of ANO were interesting as they showed that the party started addressing less educated people and simplified its communication even further.

Joachymstal said the Pirates addressed similar groups as TOP 09 which got into a defensive position.

He said the Social Democrats (CSSD) did a good thing when they replaced their election leader. “The change in communication style. The technocratic (outgoing Prime Minister Bohuslav) Sobotka could not match Babis in rhetoric, while (Lubomir) Zaoralek is more familiar with the confrontational style, Joachymstal said.

Kubacek said the introduction of upper limits on spending at the level of 90 million crowns influenced the campaigns, same as the ban on placing billboards at motorways and main roads.

“The public naturally appreciated the control of parties’ spending on campaigns, but the practical effect is yet to come and it is possible that it will not come at all,” Kominek said.

Joachymstal said it seems that parties still do not know how to effectively manage the spending limits. “This is why we saw relatively dull and indistinctive campaigns depending on the traditional voter groups and instruments,” he said.

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