Monday, 20 November 2017

To Brussels Obama-style

By Martina Macková |
Týden.cz |
10 March 2009

KDU-ČSL Ploty. (COURTESY)

"We take fence as a medium, we're not going to restrict but support folk creativity," KDU-ČSL says. (COURTESY)"We take fence as a medium, we're not going to restrict but support folk creativity," KDU-ČSL says. (COURTESY)

The Christian Democrats (KDU-ČSL) are planning a revolutionary thing in their otherwise always safe election campaigns. They decided to rally their voters and supporters in preparation for the European Parliament elections. This could help them close the gap on the richer parties. KDU-ČSL is planning to post billboards and posters on the fences of its supporters.

Today they can be already sure of almost 4,000 fences. Most of them are located in southern Moravia, in the Zlín region and around Hradec Králové. The party has not yet appealed to its voters, only to its party members.

"We see the fence as a medium, we're not going to restrict but support folk creativity," said the Christian Democrats who would like to imitate the atmosphere that prevailed during the campaign of US president Barack Obama.

"Obama helped popularise elements of political marketing and promote them in the media. That's why we think our project makes sense. More than his internet campaign we were gripped by how he managed to involve basically everyone in the campaign and rally people," said election manager Jaroslav Poláček.

Many party members = many fences

The KDU-ČSL invest incomparably less money in their campaigns than other cabinet parties. They simply do not have the means. "Our income is limited compared to that of other parties," admitted the party politicians as well as their chairman, Jiří Čunek. Also this year's KDU-ČSL euro campaign should have a budget of only CZK 5 million.

At the same time, however, the KDU-ČSL is one the parties with the most supporters and that is what the party is relying on now. The candidates themselves, party members, KDU-ČSL youth and affiliated entrepreneurs will take part in the campaign.

"We've convinced several entrepreneurs to lend us part of their advertising area. We think that our election posters placed in established trustworthy companies will make an impression on voters-customers and maybe even convince them to vote for our party," said Stanislav Kamba, the chairman of KDU-ČSL district committee in Blansko.

"I think that Christian Democratic MEPs have done a lot for entrepreneurs. Putting their posters on display is only a small repayment," said Lubomír Ducháček, entrepreneur from Drnoviny u Lysic who is planning to take part in the campaign.

Fences like chocolate

The campaign on fences and houses can partly resemble a project organized by Nestlé a few years ago. By posting one of its trademarks in their windows people had a chance to win money. Christian Democrats are namely also planning a competition for owners of fences.

KDU-ČSL teams will travel around places where people have posted the posters and give presents to the best ones. There will also be an internet competition and everyone who will have an original photo of themselves in front of "their" fence or who will have somehow improved the campaign, has a chance.

Already now Christian Democrats have a website on the campaign Ploty [Fences] on Facebook. "If you own a fence facing a street, a wall on your house which many cars pass by every day for example, and if you are willing to provide it to us for two months for posting our poster or billboard there, write to us, call us," the party is asking.

"That's probably the best "election" idea of the KDU-ČSL central committee that I remember," one of the party's fans Jan Staněk said. "Disappointing. I thought it was a project against the state administration and project Platy [Salaries]," fan Petr Jager was disappointed.

An affair could spoil the campaign

Political scientist Pavel Šaradín from Olomouc's Palacký University said that the "fence" campaign will make the party more visible and that it can bring electoral gain. "People will be talking about it and it will be visible. If the party doesn't make some essential mistake before the elections and if no affair turns up, it is a good foundation for winning voters," he told the online daily Týden.cz.

In June, when the elections to the European Parliament are to take place, Christian Democrats will be also electing their chairman. And an affair within the fight for party leadership might emerge.

Similarly like other parties, KDU-ČSL fears it may lose votes because of low election turnout. "Today it is estimated that about twenty percent of people will vote in the euro elections. It is good to activate people in a campaign, then they will also come to the elections," Šaradín said.

Also ODS, who has launched some activities on the internet, is trying to arouse voters. Nevertheless, Christian Democrats are betting on personal relations and communication. "It is more valuable than phrases about Facebook and social networks, although we use them as well. Moreover, the added value lies in the fact that the project makes it possible for everyone to personally participate in the campaign. To revive contact with people, to start cooperation, to address every neighbour. As soon as it starts, nobody will make it go slower," Poláček said.


Translated with permission by the Prague Daily Monitor.