Voters and non-voters

Compared to the previous election, the turnout in the last election to the Chamber of Deputies declined dramatically (76.3% of eligible voters in 1996; 73.9% in 1998 but only 58.0% in 2002). This election brought two surprises: in addition to the above-mentioned low turnout, the election also resulted in unwelcome significant gains for the KSCM. There is a great resemblance between some parameters of these two developments.

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Citizen attitudes before the local election

75% of respondents that are eligible to vote said they intended to participate in the November local elections, whereas 17% said they were not going to vote in the elections. 37% of citizens are determined about whom to vote for, while 21% admit they may change their mind and 23% have not decided yet whom to support. 57% of those polled trust their mayor, whereas 31% do not.

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The electorate before the Senate election

Throughout the ‘super election’ year 2002, the Public Opinion Research Centre investigated how voters’ decisions developed, with its September survey focusing, inter alia, on the coming Senate election. Almost a half (43%) of those who said they would definitely vote in the Senate election were decided about whom to support. The decision to vote in the Senate election was the most firm among those who would support the ODS and the KSCM in a potential election to the Chamber of Deputies.

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Party preferences in late September

For the first time since the June election to the Chamber of Deputies, all respondents having the right to vote were asked an open question (i.e. without a list of political parties being used) investigating which party they would vote for if an election to the Chamber of Deputies took place the following week. The structure of the answers given is summarised in the table. The question ‘Imagine that an election to the Chamber of Deputies is held next week.

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Citizen political activities before the parliamentary election

Shortly after this year’s parliamentary election, the Public Opinion Research Centre examined political activities of respondents in the pre-election period. The survey investigated, inter alia, whether people had attempted to persuade someone to vote for a certain party or candidate (14% of respondents did this at least sometimes) and whether they had expressed their support for a particular party or candidate by visiting a meeting, putting up posters etc (12% of respondents did this at least sometimes).

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Citizen opinions on participation in the election

The data collected clearly show that attitudes of the Czech public towards voting are deeply ambivalent. Those polled almost universally agree that participation in elections is a personal matter (88%) and that the possibility to vote is a right that must be exercised (83%) – in both instances, roughly a tenth of respondents disagreed with the statements. Slightly less consensus exists as to the statements that voting is not a duty but is necessary for society (72%), and that participation in elections is a civic duty (68%).

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Public evaluation of political parties shortly after the election to the Chamber of Deputies

More than three fifths (61%) of those polled generally take a critical view of how parties behave, of which 41% generally dislike the behaviour of parties and 20% say that the situation makes them disgusted. On the other hand, 27% of respondents are critical of some parties only and only 1% expresses general satisfaction with how political parties behave. The performance of individual parties in the Chamber of Deputies is assessed as follows: the best evaluation is given to the CSSD – assessed favourably by over a half of respondents (54%).

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Post-election expectations before and after elections

Compared to the pre-election period, post-election political, economic and general expectations of citizens were somewhat more pessimistic following the announcement of the final election results. This shift stems from the absolutely clear post-election disappointment among supporters of the ODS, 90% of whom expected the victory of their party and therefore took a very positive view of the post-election development.

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On how the electorate decides

In its post-election survey, the Public Opinion Research Centre posed a few questions examining the decision-making process of voters. More than a fifth of voters made their decision to vote shortly before the election. A further 11% say to have made their decision in the course of May, i.e. approximately a month before the election. An overwhelming majority of voters - 62% - decided (not) to vote well in advance.

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Shifts in voter support

In its post-election survey, the Public Opinion Research Centre, inter alia, on shifts in voter support. This print information is based on a comparison between the real decisions of respondents in the recent election and responses about which party they voted in the June 1998 election to the Chamber of Deputies. Our findings indicate that over a tenth (11%) of those who now voted for the KSCM, had supported the CSSD in the previous election.

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