Sunday, 19 November 2017

Deputies on Facebook: A probe into the lower house

By Lucie Husárová | Týden.cz |
15 June 2009

More and more legislators have discovered the charm of the social network Facebook. Among the deputies who pass their time chatting on the internet during the lower house debates are many Social Democrats. That is, members of the party that admitted after the elections for the European Parliament that it had underestimated the power of Facebook. It was on the web that the Eggs for Paroubek in Every Town initiative came into existence.

"So I'm taking off for the shadow cabinet session. Now I'm hesitating though, whose shadow I actually am." Or: "We are having a third reading of bills, so we're voting and deciding. Hopefully they will be good laws." The author of these unusual statements is one of the most active Facebook contributors among deputies: ČSSD deputy head Zdeněk Škromach. He is said to have tried Facebook out of curiosity. And because of the events of the election campaign. "And maybe also the eggs and discussion with our opponents at the meetings," Škromach said. "They are neither stupid nor fanatics: It's only necessary to talk to them."

Deputies 'over a glass'
Legislators also sometimes reveal things on Facebook that ought not to be intended for others. And readers of their profiles can find out that the job of a lawmaker has its bright side.

So, for example, in Škromach's case, one can read that "interpellations are not that attractive" and that deputies had a "chat over a glass" at their colleague's birthday celebration. Ladislav Skopal (ČSSD) has written in the past that the wine-tasting visit to Bohemia Sekt in Starý Plzenec was "demanding" or that he's just "relaxing after a visit to Vinex".

Škromach has had a Facebook account for only three weeks, and he already has more than 120 friends – among them are for example the actor, dramatist and former deputy František Ringo Čech, the outgoing MEP Jana Bobošíková, the deputy Olga Zubová and Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico. "We've been friends for a long time with Robert, but he's very busy now," Škromach said. "And I hope that he'll be busy for quite some time yet."

The politician, who is very popular among ČSSD deputies thanks to his consistently good mood, entertains his friends on Facebook. The deputy's photo albums are accepted very positively: He has pics from the presidential election, the lower house, a radio interview and even snapshots of when he was young. And Škromach himself is also excited. "I've found out that it's better than a personal website or intranet," he said. "It lives more here."

The ODS, especially in the case of Edvard Kožušník, a candidate for the European Parliament, used Facebook before the elections, and the Greens also bet a lot on the network. However, Škromach was circumspect about the use of Facebook early in the run-up. "The campaign shouldn't be violent," he said. "So it's better to be cautious. I think that it might discourage people. Only no marketing strategy."