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LN: Parties prepare for final TV debates before election

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Prague, Oct 17 (CTK) – The television debate and duel of party leaders that will be broadcast live on Thursday night on the eve of the Czech general election may markedly influence voters and leaders prepare for them in various ways, daily Lidove noviny (LN) wrote on Tuesday.

The election leaders of the two biggest parties which have been ruling the country since 2014, Andrej Babis (ANO) and Lubomir Zaoralek (Social Democrats, CSSD), will meet in a duel of the commercial Nova television station. Both claim that they are not preparing for the fight, the paper writes.

“I do not try anything in front of a mirror, I’ve never done that. I don’t practise for my performance, I don’t plan my appearance in advance. I am sometimes even criticised that my speeches are kind of spontaneous. I think the critics are right in this,” said Zaoralek who is foreign minister.

Zaoralek admitted that he usually studies written materials before television debates and has several people whom he calls to ask them about their views, often opposite to his own.

Babis told LN that he does not get ready for TV debates in any way. “My speeches at meetings with voters are much better than those made on television,” he said.

However, Babis is regularly practising with Czech language teacher Jana Postlerova to improve his Czech because he was born in Slovakia and he sometimes uses a mixture of the two language that are very similar.

The ANO movement is the clear favourite of the election that will be held on Friday and Saturday.

Babis and Zaoralek may also take part in the “superdebate” of the leaders of the ten most popular parties in the country that the public Czech Television (CT) broadcasts after the Nova TV duel on October 19. Zaoralek already confirmed that he would join the superdebate.

Generally, Czech parties consider it crucial that their representatives get well prepared for TV discussions. Especially parties lacking experience in top politics try to erase this handicap.

“We organise media training sessions for our regional leaders who have not taken part in TV discussions yet,” Pirate leader Ivan Bartos told LN, referring to the series of CT debates in which party leaders from a given region meet.

The Pirates have failed to enter the lower house of Czech parliament so far, but it seems that they have a big chance of succeeding now.

Like Zaoralek and Babis, Bartos says he does not prepare himself for the debates. “I passed rhetoric exams and I taught at university. I believe I have no problem with communication. I want to be authentic,” he told the paper.

On the other hand, such a political matador as TOP 09 chairman Miroslav Kalousek prepares very thoroughly for every debate and even repeats some parts of his speech in front of a mirror, he told LN.

“Whenever I go to a debate, I must have several crucial statements ready that I want to make and will make,” he said.

“I sometimes have an exercise lesson, especially because of nonverbal communication. I feel I am not brilliant in this even after those years,” said Kalousek who is active in top politics since the 1990s and is considered one of the best right-wing speakers in Czech parliament.

The Communists (senior opposition KSCM) use the services of psychologists, experts in nonverbal communication and other consultants, the party’s deputy chairman Jiri Dolejs said.

“We even force our beginners to train this. An expert has a session with them, makes a video and then shows them the mistakes they make,” he told the paper.

Dolejs said studying the topics that are going to be discussed is a matter of course.

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