Young voters don’t go to the polls, something which has apparently broken the back of TOP 09. But the real reasons for the poor showing of this once strong party in the regional elections are likely more complicated – and should serve as a warning to its leaders.
Before the votes were even in, TOP 09’s chairman, MP Miroslav Kalousek, tried to explain away the poor showing by saying the party’s base voters didn’t turn out at the polls. He included young voters – those who engaged in political debate on social media, but then failed to actually vote. There is certainly something to be said for this non-voting phenomenon, but it can hardly be said to fully account for the collapse of what was once the Czech Republic’s strongest right-of-centre party.
Far more likely is that TOP 09 may now be little more than a Prague-centric bubble. So while Kalousek and other notable party members tried to devote intense energies to touring the regions, they still failed to break the lingering image of the former pro-austerity finance minister Kalousek as a symbol of all that was bad. In the regions, the negative caricature still resonates, as reflected in both the billboards of opponents, and also in social media chatter.
But in Prague the picture is very different. TOP 09 is doing well in the capital, and thanks to its success there, it managed a decent showing in the 2013 general election, despite being a member of the losing government coalition of the day. But the party leadership has evidently failed to grasp that outside of Prague TOP 09 really is a party hovering somewhere at around five-percent of support. So now Kalousek is thrust into some obligatory navel-gazing and eating of humble pie. What happened to “HIS” voters? And, more importantly, who will pay for the party’s poor results?