It's two months before the election, and the pollsters are having a field day. Every polling agency is revealing different findings. No one knows where it's all leading.
IVVM puts the Social Democrats well in the lead with 30%. Sofres-Factum says about 26%, and STEM predicts that they will get less than 24%.
The race on the right is seen differently by these agencies as well. Sofres-Factum gives US the lead over ODS 13% to 12%, but STEM claims the score is 16 to 13 in favour of ODS.
KDU-»SL has 9% according to STEM but only about 6% according to Sofres-Factum. DZJ may be polling at 4% or 7% depending on whether you believe STEM or Sofres-Factum. DEU is starting to reach the 5% mark as well according to some polls.
Only two things seem certain in this election: ODA is washed up completely and both Republicans and Communists will each have about 7-9% of the electorate behind them. Beyond that, you won't get many predictions out of me.
The opinion polls vary so wildly because there are so many undecided voters who are frustrated with their lack of choice. These people may give a quick answer to the pollsters, but they have not yet convinced themselves to vote for one party or the other. Except for the die-hard Republican and Communist supporters who are remarkably disciplined, many voters are still wavering. I think that many will make their final decision only on their way to the polling booths.
Some will decide to "hold their noses" and vote for a party that they know, one that has played a role in the current disappointing Parliament. They will try to select the "least worst" option available.
But this is a unique time in the political development of the country, and many of these undecided voters may take a chance and cast their vote for a lesser known, currently non-parliamentary party. This is where the situation begins to get really interesting.
Certainly the recent surge of DZJ is a clear example of this. The political analyst (zŠstupce vedoucĚho ™stavu politologie Filozofickť fakulty Univerzity Karlovy) Zdenžk ZboÝil is correct to point out that this party is gaining votes today precisely because it is unknown, because it is not attached to the past. Many citizens are seeking something completely new in politics, and their vote for DZJ is like a protest vote. It is a signal of frustration and dissatisfaction with the country's current situation. DZJ is capitalising on that frustration and may reach Parliament because of it.
That party may not be alone. With two months to go, I would not be surprised to see other previously non-parliamentary parties enter the political mainstream and perhaps even enter Parliament. Many people are undecided, and a new face may draw lightning support in the same way that DZJ seems to have done.
People are ready to cast their votes for lesser-known parties, and there seems to be less worry about "wasting your vote." Voters realise that those votes for lesser-known parties will be registered as votes of protest against the current parliamentary parties and their handling of the country in the past few years. Such votes say that people are tired of the main political parties, tired of their corruption and maybe simply tired of seeing the same faces with the same weak excuses on TV night after night. Many are ready to get rid of them and start afresh.
The next two months will see a great race to win the votes of those frustrated and wavering voters. Voters have shown that they are willing to risk their votes for complete change, but it remains to be seen which "new" party will convince them finally. There's never been a better time for lesser-known parties to make their mark in Czech politics and to enter Parliament.