Pink, M. (2012). The Electoral Base of Left-Wing Post-Communist Political Parties in the Former Czechoslovakia. Středoevropské politické studie, 14(2–3), 170-192. Získáno z https://journals.muni.cz/cepsr/article/view/4580/6142
The electoral base of the left postcommunist political parties in former Czechoslovakia

Středoevropské politické studieRočník XIV, Číslo 23, s. 170–192

Central European Political Studies ReviewVolume XIV, Issue 2–3, pp. 170–192

International Institute of Political Science, Faculty of Social Studies, Masaryk UniversityISSN 1212-7817

 

The Electoral Base of Left-Wing Post-Communist Political Parties in the Former Czechoslovakia

 

Michal Pink[1]

 

This work has been undertaken according to the provision of a postdoctoral grant supported by the GACR - Political Regionalism in the Czech and Slovak Republics and Changes in Voting Maps 1993 - 2010, No. 407/09/P042

 

Abstract: The goal of this article is to discuss the electoral base of left-wing political parties in the Czech Republic and Slovakia after 1993, i.e., after the breakup of the joint federal state.  The main focus of research is the distribution of electoral support in these countries, its evolution, and the mutual stability among parties it has shown in elections to the legislatures of both countries. Each country is divided into fairly similar units. In the Czech Republic, these are municipalities with extended powers and, in Slovakia, districts. The election results presented are compared with the demographic structure of selected individual regions and subsequently analyzed. The result addresses whether and to what extent the electoral base of relatively similar left-wing political parties in these neighbouring countries are alike or unalike.

 

Keywords: Elections, Electoral Geography, Czech Republic, Czech Social Democratic Party, Slovak Republic, SMER – Social Democracy, Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia

 

  1. Introduction

After the fall of the nondemocratic regime in the former Czechoslovakia and the breakup of the common federal state, a new political and party system gradually began to take shape in the Czech and Slovak republics. Left-wing parties, especially post-communist parties, also had to find their place within this process and come to terms with the heritage of their predecessors in the earlier nondemocratic regime. The two environments which originated after the countries split might at first glance appear to be similar or even identical, but the party systems which came into being in fact differed from each other. In the Czech Republic, the Social Democratic Party tried to ride the coattails of the Social Democrats of the First Republic and became one of the two chief poles fairly quickly. Yet the Communist Party also managed to survive, being the chief inheritor of the political power of the nondemocratic regime which had ruled for the preceding four decades. In Slovakia, however, the Social Democrats and other left-wing entities experienced long-term difficulty stabilizing their voter base. Only after 10 years did the new SMER party manage to formulate its ideas in such a way that it received repeated electoral support. Another decisive factor was that while in the Czech Republic the Communist Party repeatedly took part in elections and won seats in the legislature, in Slovakia, the Communist Party was relegated to the sidelines. With the exception of elections during the 2002-2006 period, the party was not represented in Parliament.

The text which follows will build upon these basic points in focusing on the electoral stability of those left-wing parties which scored repeated successes in elections to the legislature in both countries after 1993. In addition, their variability and evolution over the past two decades will be discussed. After a basic introduction to the tools used in the research, the focus is placed on the basic characteristics of left-wing parties in the Czech and Slovak Republics. Comparative and statistical methods will also be used to attempt to determine where these political parties find their regular sources of support, and how they differ or resemble each other in terms of their basic electoral potential in these two countries.

The chief research hypothesis stems from the conviction that left-wing political parties in both the Czech and Slovak Republics draw upon a similar geographic distribution of voter groups. Given the origin of these parties, an increase in voter support may be expected, with increasing numbers of urban voters and voters from areas with high unemployment and low incomes (Hloušek - Kopeček 2010). The final variable will be purchasing power, with figures coming from the INCOMA GfK database.[2] Because left-wing party values include anticlericalism and an emphasis on civic virtue, we will also look at the level of religious participation, expressed in the proportion of residents declaring adherence to the Catholic faith. We anticipate that the proportion of left-wing voters will correlate inversely with the proportion of those belonging to the Catholic Church. 

 

2.  Methodological Background

Several methods will be used to test these hypotheses. First, we identify the areas of support for left-wing political parties. Second, we attempt to confirm or disconfirm the notion that their support is geographically stable. Individual electoral maps will be compared and stability will be assessed using the comparative method entitled regional electoral support and the modified version called regional superelectoral support. Areas will be defined using straightforward counts. Election results for particular political parties are sorted by percentage gains, from highest to lowest. Once in this order, they are added together and the midpoint of the total sum is sought. This line is then used to divide the units into two halves, yielding regions representing a 50% voter support concentration level out of the total number of votes cast in that election. The resulting set is labelled the region of voter support for the parties (Jehlička, Sýkora 1991). A second, modified concept was introduced by Pavel Šaradín in his work focusing on the election results of the two chief political parties in 2006 (Šaradín 2006). It consists of dividing the entire set into quartiles. Superelectoral support is then represented by the upper, most successful regions. By comparing units thus defined, we are able to determine the regions of stable voter support and super support.

The basic aggregation data used in the following text will be ORP units for the Czech Republic. These comprise 209 units. In Slovakia, districts will be used, 79 units in all,[3]  which, given the number of inhabitants, may be considered to provide comparable voter numbers. The database consists of election results for parliamentary elections between 1994 and 2010, along with other variables. To determine the basic stability and mutual dependence of voter support, correlation analysis will be employed,[4] in particular the Pearson coefficient as the basic tool. 

 In addition to comparing the stability of voter support on the basis of cartographic imagery, the text will attempt to explore whether a dependence exists between voter support for left-wing parties and the variables noted. Comparison and regression analysis will be used with the following variables: district characteristics indicated by the degree of urbanization, i.e. the proportion of inhabitants living in the city as opposed to rural areas, as well as the extent of unemployment, the proportion of religious believers, and the already noted income variable.

 

  1. Left-Wing Parties and Their Position in the Party System

 

3.1. The Czech Social Democratic Party and the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia

In comparison to the systems of other post-communist countries in Central and Eastern Europe, the Czech party system has stabilized over the past 16 years and is relatively easy to classify. Currently, there are four main currents which may be considered established and stable within the party spectrum. There are two chief political parties, these being the Civic Democratic Party, with a liberal-conservative orientation, and the Czech Social Democratic Party, a member of the Social Democratic Party spectrum. Other stable entities include the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia, the chief descendent of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia. In addition to these, other parties have also taken seats in Parliament, but over the long term, have not been able to defend their gains and have gradually been pushed out of the legislative body. Among these are the Christian and Democratic Union – Czechoslovak Popular Party, which up to 2010 functioned as a long-term centrist actor in the parliament; the Green Party, a more liberally-oriented party which gained seats in 2006; and the liberal Civic Democratic Alliance and Union of Freedom parties, which are no longer active. 

Given these facts, it would be possible to classify the Czech party system as one in keeping with Giovanni Sartori’s moderate pluralism concept, a type of party system which is primarily defined as being in opposition to the classical bi-party system. It consists of a system of coalition governments and is based upon the existence of at least three, and preferably five or six, relevant political parties (Sartori 1976). Looking closer at the election results, it is possible to identify voter support for the CSSD at a nationwide level of around 30%, with the party's best result coming in the 2006 elections. In that election, the party received 32.32% of votes, guaranteeing it 74 seats out of a total 200, the maximum it has won in its post-1989 history. The party which won first place and formed the government, however, was the ODS, pushing the Social Democrats into opposition after eight years of government. They remained in this position in further years as well, but the distribution of power in the parliament was such that the party maintained its hope that it might cause the government's collapse, something which happened at the end of March, 2009. Over the ensuing 14-month period, the party supported the caretaker government and, in the long-awaited 2010 elections, won the most votes; however, because of the overall distribution of votes, it ended up once again in opposition.

The other left-wing party, the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia, has repeatedly managed to win more than 10% of the vote. An exceptional success came in the 2002 elections, in which the party attained its current-era maximum.

In evaluating the Czech party structure, particularly as regards the Communist Party, a problem arises in applying a criterion of general acceptability for participating in coalition governments. The Communists have, over the last 20 years, been subject to an agreement which rules out their participation and effectively makes their coalition potential zero. This is a party which does not currently function as the principal opposition to the system itself, but because of its ideology and platform, is subject to an exclusion agreement. Although the Communists have regularly taken part in elections and have gained seats in Parliament, they have never taken part in the government (Kostelecký 2001).

 

Table No. 1: Parliamentary Election Results, 1996-2010

 

1996

1998

2002

2006

2010

%

of votes

%

of votes

%

of votes

%

of votes

%

of votes

CSSD

26.44

1602250

32.31

1928660

30.20

1440279

32.32

1728827

22.08

1155267

KDU-CSL[5]

8.08

489349

9.00

537013

14.27

680671

7.22

386706

4.39

229717

KSCM

10.33

626136

11.03

658550

18.51

882653

12.81

685328

p1.27

589765

ODA

6.36

385369

-

-

0.50

24278

-

-

-

-

ODS

29.62

1794560

27.74

1656011

24.47

1166975

35.38

1892475

20.22

1057792

SZ

-

-

1.12

67143

2.36

112929

6.29

336487

2.44

127831

SPR-RSC

8.01

485072

3.90

232965

-

-

-

-

-

-

TOP09

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

16.70

873833

VV

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

10.88

569127

Source: www.volby.cz 

 

3.2. Social Democrats and the Left Wing in the Slovak Party Environment

The recent party-political situation in Slovakia has often been characterized as being possessed of a highly variable party system with a low level of structure. A number of new parties have come into being over the last two decades, gradually replacing entities whose position had been viewed as being unshakable. Under Paul Lewis's conception, five basic political parties may be discerned in the Slovak environment, belonging to individual party families.[6] The post-communist party family includes the Party of the Democratic Left, gradually supplanted by SMER-SD. The liberal pro-market party family is represented by the Slovak Democratic Coalition, later the SDKU-DS. Ethnic interests are represented by the Hungarian coalition party Strana Madarske Koalice, and there are Christian Democrats and traditional conservatives in HZDS, as well as pure nationalists represented by the SNS. This typology characterizes the Slovak environment at the close of the 1990s and directly after the country's entry into the EU. With certain modifications, it survived up until the most recent elections in 2010 (Hloušek - Kopeček 2010).

In examining the election results for individual parties in greater detail, only SMER, established later, may be included in the group of left-wing post-communist parties repeatedly gaining seats in Parliament. This entity came into being with the departure of the popular representative Robert Fico from the Party of the Democratic Left in 1999. Fico gave preference to professionals and experts over old party hands. His style may be characterized as one of "unpolitical politics" (Kopeček 2007). In its first elections in 2002, SMER took 13.43% of the vote. These results did not meet the party's objectives, and it remained in opposition throughout the entire subsequent election period. But important events took place between 2002 and 2006, which led to significant changes within SMER, both from an organizational and ideological standpoint. SMER gradually overwhelmed the minor parties of the left (SOP, SDSS, SDA), including the Party of the Democratic Left, which Robert Fico had abandoned. The party shifted leftward along the right-left axis. Its ideological tendency toward social democratic parties is apparent from the choice of name SMER – Social Democracy. As part of its opposition role, the party began to work closely with unions and learned to function as the chief critic of economic reforms by the right wing government (made up of the SDKU, KDH, SMK and, for a portion of the election period, ANO). In the parliamentary elections of 2006, the party received almost 30% of the vote, making it the clear winner, and formed the government together with the SNS and HZDS-LS. During the period that it has been in existence, therefore, SMER has transformed itself from its original incarnation as an "apolitical formation" based upon the rejection of the classic party model and "managerial enterprise" into a party with a social democratic orientation (Kopeček 2007: 286-287). As was the case with the Czech Social Democratic Party, in the 2010 elections, the party won the election but ended up assuming the opposition role anyway.

 

Table No. 2: NRSR Election Results, 1994-2010

 

1994

1998

2002

2006

2010

%

of votes

%

of votes

%

of votes

%

of votes

%

of votes

ANO

-

-

-

-

8.01

230309

1.42

32775

-

-

DU

8.57

246444

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

HZDS

34.96

1005488

27.00

907103

19.50

560691

8.79

202540

4.32

109480

KDH

10.08

289987

-

-

8.25

237203

8.31

191443

8.52

215755

KSS

2.70

-

2.80

-

6.32

181872

3.88

89418

-

-

Most/Híd

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

8.12

205538

SaS

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

12.14

307287

SDKU-DS

-

-

-

-

15.09

433953

18.35

422815

15.42

390042

SDK

-

-

26.33

884497

-

-

-

-

-

-

Party of the Democratic Left (SDL)

-

-

14.66

492507

-

-

-

-

2.41

61137

SMER-SD

-

-

-

-

13.46

387100

29.14

671185

34.79

880111

SMK

10.18

292936

9.12

306623

11.16

321069

 

 

4.33

109638

SOP

-

-

8.01

269343

-

-

-

-

-

-

SNS

5.40

155359

9.07

304839

3.32

95633

11.73

270230

5.07

128490

Sp. Election

10.41

299496

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

ZRS

7.34

211321

1.30

43809

0.54

15755

 

 

0.24

6196

Source: www.statistics.sk

 

4. Voter Support between 1994 and 2010 as Seen Using Electoral Geography 

 

4.1. Czech Social Democratic Party 

The Czech Social Democratic Party was a latecomer to the party system. Its first significant win came right at the start of the period in question, in 1996. From an electoral stability point of view, as evidenced in Table No. 2 and the results of correlation analysis, the Social Democrats may be seen to have a stable voter base, but not as stable as, for example, other parties in the Czech environment, primarily ODS and KSCM (Pink 2010). Vis-à-vis other political parties and their voters, there is a clear positive dependency after the year 2000, particularly in regions with a high share of KSCM voters. An interesting factor is the existence of a moderate relationship between the voter base of Social Democracy in 2010, 1998 and 1996 and that of the radical right wing SPR-RSC in 1998 and 1996. With other parties, there is a mutual negative dependence, particularly as regards ODS, the Green Party and the nonexistence of any correlation to KDU-CSL.

 

Table No. 3: Mutual Dependence of CSSD Voter Base with Other Parties

 

CSSD10

CSSD06

CSSD02

CSSD98

CSSD96

CSSD10

1

0.952

0.726

0.823

0.714

CSSD06

0.952

1

0.774

0.819

0.735

CSSD02

0.726

0.774

1

0.714

0.614

KSCM10

0.470

0.392

0.168

0.483

0.399

KSCM06

0.459

0.375

0.162

0.482

0.382

KSCM02

0.512

0.430

0.160

0.569

0.472

ODS10

-0.710

-0.698

-0.286

-0.551

-0.515

ODS06

-0.768

-0.778

-0.440

-0.546

-0.468

ODS02

-0.726

-0.738

-0.435

-0.548

-0.465

KDU06

0.023

0.063

-0.059

-0.240

-0.231

SZ06

-0.567

-0.575

-0.412

-0.403

-0.307

SPR-RSC 98

0.357

0.334

0.127

0.422

0.383

SPR-RSC 96

0.309

0.277

0.084

0.355

0.243

US98

-0.763

-0.724

-0.529

-0.778

-0.658

Source: author's calculations; www.volby.cz

 

Comparative Map No. 1 shows that from 1996 until the most recent parliamentary elections in May of 2010, the voter base of the chief Czech left-wing party was primarily in evidence in central and northern Moravia and partially also in central Bohemia and some adjacent municipalities with extended powers in neighbouring regions. The core voter base may be unambiguously pinpointed in the Moravian-Silesian Region, where, with the exception of Kravarsko, units of electoral support and super support are found. Other highly successful areas include Svitavy in the Pardubice area, the Bystrice area in Vysocina, and the Kutna Hora – Caslav area, in particular. The extended majority electoral base also includes areas at the borders between the Central Bohemia and Pilsen regions; the Rakovnik, Kralovice and Pribram areas and the adjacent Blatna area; areas around Sokolov; and  the Chomutov and Most areas in the Usti nad Labem region. In Moravia, significant areas include those around Konice and Prerov, the border area between the Jihomoravsky, Olomoucky and Zlin regions, and, primarily, the areas of Prostejov, Vyskov and Kromeriz. When comparing the top ten municipalities with extended powers, Karvina, Bohumin and Orlova come up repeatedly. Prior studies have shown that Social Democrats obtained votes in 1996 and 1998 in localities with the highest unemployment and lower entrepreneurial activity. These were border regions which were not, however, impoverished. Support also grew in socially dysfunctional areas. Between 1996 and 1998, the norm was for the chief opposition party to find its voters in areas with the lowest numbers of inhabitants having a secondary or university education and with a higher number of agricultural workers, and in locations where wages had been high in 1980 (Kostelecký 2001). The situation did not change in any fundamental way after 2002. Social Democratic voters were found in areas with a high share of urban voters, high unemployment levels, and larger numbers of religious believers (Kostelecký 2002). At the other end of the scale, support for Social Democrats on the map is marginal for the Liberec and Hradec Kralove regions, as well as for southern Bohemia, with the exception of Blatna.

 

Map No. 1 CSSD Voter Support Regions

Source: author's map/data  www.volby.cz 

 

4.2. The Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia

The Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia is the main descendent of the party under the undemocratic regime in the former Czechoslovakia prior to 1989 and continues to enjoy stable, relatively unchanging voter support. Trends visible in the period of observation show the party's support lies primarily in peripheral areas. Prior studies of voter support for the Communist Party showed that in 1996 and 1998 the party's voters tended to live in regions with relatively high incomes, where its support was also somewhat high in the semi-competitive elections of 1946, as well as areas of Bohemia where the voter base was distributed between 1990 and 1992. Electoral support then gradually shifted to Moravia, particularly along the border with Austria (Kostelecký 2001). Looking at Table No. 4, it becomes clear that the voter base of the Communist Party is highly stable, with a correlation coefficient for individual elections exceeding 0.9 or coming very close to it. As far as other parties go, there is a repeated positive dependence with the voter base of Czech Social Democrats, as well as SPR-RSC. As with the parties discussed earlier, there is a highly negative relationship to areas with ODS voters and their current and former coalition partners.

 

Table No. 4 Mutual Dependence of KSCM Voter Base with Other Parties

 

KSCM10

KSCM06

KSCM02

KSCM98

KSCM96

CSSD10

0.470

0.459

0.512

0.387

0.239

CSSD06

0.392

0.375

0.430

0.310

0.153

CSSD02

0.168

0.162

0.160

0.118

0.043

KSCM10

1

0.967

0.915

0.887

0.819

KSCM06

0.967

1

0.958

0.937

0.878

KSCM02

0.915

0.958

1

0.915

0.845

ODS10

-0.619

-0.599

-0.598

-0.503

-0.341

ODS06

-0.531

-0.495

-0.454

-0.447

-0.264

ODS02

0.258

-0.494

-0.455

-0.448

-0.272

KDU06

-0.224

-0.278

-0.373

-0.223

-0.315

SZ06

-0.362

-0.337

-0.299

-0.330

-0.207

SPR-RSC 98

0.386

0.450

0.560

0.371

0.338

SPR-RSC 96

0.503

0.570

0.634

0.482

0.451

US98

-0.617

-0.618

-0.667

-0.553

-0.421

Source: author's calculations; www.volby.cz

 

Looking at the map showing long-term trends after 1992, it is evident that the Communist Party's voter base is located in areas which have been socially marginalized to a certain extent, the former Sudetenland and areas where the transformation of the previous two decades has not been entirely successful. Comparing the party's results to those of the Czech Social Democratic Party, KSCM has its greatest support in Bohemia and Southern Moravia, as opposed to the industrial Ostrava area. Its highest concentration of voters is clearly located in the Southern Moravian region and along the border between the Usti nad Labem and Central Bohemia regions. In Southern Moravia, the focus is the area around Znojmo and the nearby areas of Ivancice and Oslavany, where previous studies have already shown a higher concentration of KSCM voters[7]. In the Southern Moravia area, the districts around Trebic and Vyskov, [8] as well as the Mikulov area, also show a higher concentration of voters. The situation in the area around the border between Central Bohemia and the Usti region is similar, as well as for Rakovnik, Chomutov and Louny. But the Tachov district is clearly in first place in long-term comparisons. Support for KSCM exceeded 30% in the 2002 elections. Smaller localities which are areas of super voter support also include Cheb and Bruntal. Long-term comparison shows Hradec Kralove and Zlin to be areas with minimum support for the communist program, with the only exceptions being the Kostelec nad Orlici unit for Hradec Kralove and the Kromeriz unit for Zlin.

 

Map No. 2 KSCM Voter Support Regions 1996-2010

Source: author's map/data; www.volby.cz 

 

4.3. SMER - SD

Compared to Czech parties, SMER got off to a late start. The party really only became established during the first decade of this century. Its voter support and success in Slovakia, however, has been significant and, at the time of writing, the party is getting ready for early elections in which voter preference polls show it may obtain an absolute majority of parliamentary mandates. However, let us return to the importance of its impact in the short term. After 2002 and another phase of being part of the opposition, SMER definitely set out on the path towards having a social democratic profile, which was, paradoxically, demonstrated by an increase in votes in rural areas (Krivý 2011). In 2006, Robert Fico’s party won the elections for the first time and put together a government coalition with the formerly dominant HZDS, which had become a marginal party over the years, and the radical right-wing SNS. After a period of isolation, these parties thus shared power thanks to SMER’s victory, with whom they had jointly criticized the right-wing governing coalition. More detailed information on where the SMER voter base may be found comes from studying the relations between a number of Slovak political parties and their voter base.

 

Table No. 4 Mutual Relations between the SMER-SD Voter Base and Other Parties

 

SMER-SD 2010

SMER-SD 2006

SMER 2002

SMER – SD 2010

1

0.940

0.680

SMER – SD 2006

0.940

1

0.737

SMER 2002

0.680

0.737

1

HZDS 2010

0.433

0.479

0.217

HZDS 2006

0.683

0.499

0.470

HZDS 2002

0.807

0.807

0.481

HZDS 1998

0.858

0.858

0.399

SNS 2010

0.514

0.332

0.182

SNS 2006

0.582

0.410

0.275

SDKÚ – DS 2002

-0.446

-0.377

0.025

SDKÚ - DS 2006

-0.394

-0.331

0.092

SDKÚ - DS 2010

-0.472

-0.403

0.05

Most - Híd

-0.775

X

X

SMK 2006

-0.705

-0.688

-0.724

KDH 2010

0.235

0.183

0.147

KDH 2006

0.268

0.203

0.182

KDH 2002

0.284

0.220

0.185

KSS 2002

0.575

0.595

0.439

Source: author's calculations/data; www.statistics.sk

 

The table shows us in greater detail that, in 2002, SMER underwent a certain evolution and the relation of its voter base to those of other political parties changed. Voter stability gradually increased, with values for the years between 2002 and 2006 reaching almost perfect agreement – a value of 0.94. In terms of its impact on other political parties, it is obvious that the gradual growth in votes for SMER changed what was originally a nonexistent relationship between SMER and SDKU-DS on the right into a negative one, something which also happened with parties representing the Hungarian-speaking minority in Slovakia. Very high positive values of the correlation coefficient are found for the relationship with HZDS and, in 2002, with KSS, as well. Also interesting is the growing positive dependence between the support for SMER and that for SNS, which has shown a clear growth tendency since 2002. The final party for which there is long-term stable dependence is KDH with a moderately positive relationship with SMER.

In terms of geographic comparisons, Kyloušek and Pink (2009) pointed to a shift of the core voter base for social democratic parties from west to east between 2002 and 2006. Map No. 3 expands this period to take in 2010, as well. Such an extended map depicting electoral support areas includes a number of districts which, however, lie outside the large cities and create two greater groupings. The first lies in Central and Western Slovakia, with the most significant successful districts being Topolcany, Banovce nad Bebravou and Prievidza. This voter core is expanded to include neighbouring districts located outside the city boundaries of Trencin, Zilina, Zvolen and Ziar nad Hronom. The second area with a high level of Smer support lies in Eastern Slovakia along the borders with Poland and the Ukraine. Two units of super electoral support, the Snina and Medzilaborce districts, are found there, as well. In both these locations, the dominant position is held by ethnic Slovaks but due to a number of factors they may be seen as peripheral districts (Gyarfášová – Krivý 2007; Madleňák 2012).   

 

Map No. 3 SMER electoral support area 2002 – 2010

Source: author's map/data; www.statistics.sk

 

4.4. Party of the Democratic Left

In contrast to the continuous existence and only gradual change of the Czech Communist Party, the Slovak communists carried out peremptory revisions, a transformation leading to the foundation of the Party of the Democratic Left. The basis for this lay in an ideological shift from Marxism-Leninism towards social democracy and a modern left-wing party. Thanks to this transformation, the party managed to cast off the shroud of isolation with which it had been encumbered after the revolution of 1989 (Kopeček 2005). This party, in contrast to the Czech communists, rapidly entered the temporary limited government of Jozef Moravčík in 1994 along with the anticommunist wing of KDH and other representatives of the modern Slovak political scene. In the early elections of autumn 1994, the Party of the Democratic Left joined three other small political parties to form the Spolocna Volba (Common Vote) coalition. With regard to external circumstances[9] the election outcome cannot be seen in a positive light. With 10.4% of the vote, it barely crossed the threshold for a four-member coalition. After the elections, the party was in opposition and presented itself as a decided critic of government policy. It also went through an internal crisis (Kopeček 2005).

 

Table No. 5 Mutual Relations between the Spol. Volba, SDL Voter Base and Other Parties

 

Spol. Voĺba 94

SDL 98

Sp.Volba 1994

1

0,535

HZDS 1994

-0,479

0,152

HZDS 1998

-0,470

-0,008

HZDS 2002

-0,430

-0,047

SNS 1994

-0,409

-0,113

SNS 1998

-0,590

-0,064

SNS 2006

-0,528

0,024

ZRS 1994

0,349

0,560

DU 1994

0,578

0,195

SDK 1998

0,475

0,120

SDKU 2002

0,545

0,206

KSS 2002

0,162

0,327

KSS 1998

0,232

0,429

SMER 2002

0,263

0,519

SMER 2006

0,035

0,433

Source: author's calculations/data; www.statistics.sk

 

A geographic comparison of voter support depicting the area of electoral and super electoral support shows a change in voters from Smer’s prior incarnation. The area with the highest electoral response in both elections included the southeastern portion of Bratislava and the districts of Myjava, Liptovsky Mikulas, Bardejov and Medzilaborce. In addition to these locations, the electoral support area was extended to include the mainly rural districts of Senica, Krupina, Revuca, Svidnik and Turcianske Teplice, as well the midsize towns of Spisska Nova Ves and Martin. Completing this group were the two purely urban districts of Banska Bystrica and Northwest Bratislava IV. In comparison to its prior distribution, this time SMER voter support combined both urban and rural environments. Bringing the Eastern Slovakia periphery into view, urban central and semicentral sections are also represented.

 

Map No. 4 SDL Voter Support Regions 1994-1998

Source: author's map/data; www.statistics.sk

 

5. Interpretation of Voter Support Distribution

Now we shall examine the data using the tools of multivariate analysis: In our case, the dependable variable will be the electoral base of the parties being studied and the independent variables which will help us delineate the rules of electoral behaviour will include unemployment, urbanization, income, and religiosity, expressed as the proportion of inhabitants in the Catholic Church. Detailed results of the regression analysis, including the Coefficient of Determination,[10] are given in the appendix.

 

5.1. CSSD and KSCM

The tables included in Appendices No. 6 – 9 represent mutual dependencies between the electoral support for Czech Social Democrats and four selected variables. Based upon the values indicated, we may state that with the exception of 2002, when the Social Democratic Party completed its four-year period in government under the opposition compact, the Coefficient of Determination was fairly high and the conclusions of the preceding analysis may be considered valid. In the Czech environment, the major left-wing party found support especially in areas where lower incomes and higher unemployment may be expected and, taking into account 1996 values, in more urban environments, as well. In the last two elections in 2006 and 2010, a greater electoral support was recorded in areas with a higher ratio of inhabitants affiliated with the Catholic Church.

The Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia and the Czech Social Democratic Party have their geographic electoral bases in different areas. The Coefficient of Determination for the Communists does not reach the level of its values for Social Democrats, but the conclusions may nevertheless be considered accurate. In the Czech Republic, Communist Party voters are located primarily in regions with a minimum number of religious people, areas with lower incomes, and outside city boundaries. Until 2006, it held true that the increasing proportion of unemployed brought increasing support for KSCM. By 2010, however, this factor had lost its explanatory power.

 

5.2. SMER and SDL

Mutual dependencies between the individual variables and the left-wing party electoral base point to identical or differing patterns compared with the Czech Republic. The Coefficient of Determination is not always higher but points to the existing relationship between the variables under study. SMER voters were repeatedly located primarily in areas with higher unemployment and lower incomes, along with a lower proportion of Catholic adherents. Contrary to expectation, SMER cannot be seen as a party supported by urban voters, as was apparent especially in the 2010 elections. SMER voters are very likely recruited from socially excluded areas characterized by a higher level of unemployment and lower incomes in smaller municipalities and towns. In contrast, most SDL voters in the 1994 and 1998 elections came from urban environments, where the proportion of people affiliated with the Catholic Church is low - and considering the Slovak environment, well below average. The unemployment and income variables were not as significant for voter support as with SMER, for which they played a significant role.

 

6. Conclusion

An attempt has been made here to compare the voter base of left-wing parties which have been repeatedly elected to the Czech and Slovak parliamentary bodies after 1993. Based upon basic and geographic comparisons, it may be said that the Czech electoral bases of the Czech Social Democratic Party and the Communist Party differ in terms of environment. While Social Democrats has long relied primarily on voters in the Moravian-Silesian Region, the secondary periphery, and the Ostrava urban zone, the Communist Party finds its strength in Bohemia and border areas. Voter support for the two left-wing parties in Slovakia is much more intertwined than is the case for Czech parties, but differences do exist. In three elections in a row, SMER has found its greatest voter support outside of urban areas in the eastern Slovakia periphery. There is also pronounced voter support for the party in Central Slovakia, particularly in nonurban areas once again. The Democratic Party of the Left, however, in prior elections in 1994 and 1998, also did well in urban agglomerations and failed to achieve significant support in the Central Slovakia region.

These findings are further analyzed and made more precise using regression analysis, in which it is demonstrated that left-wing political parties do not always obtain their voters from the same areas. In the Czech environment, Social Democrats finds voter support primarily in regions hit by high unemployment and with lower incomes. In the initial elections studied, the party’s support was much more significant in urban environments, as well. However, the hypothesis that support for the Czech Social Democratic Party would be higher in regions with a lower proportion of religious believers was not confirmed. The Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia’s support is localized by the explanatory variables to areas with a higher number of residents living in nonurban environments, characteristically with higher unemployment and lower incomes. In contrast to Social Democrats, the hypothesis of an inverse relationship between the level of religiosity and support for the party was confirmed.

In Slovakia, SMER, like the Czech Social Democrats, found voter support primarily in regions with religious believers, higher unemployment and lower incomes. However, its voters do not live in urban environments. Rather, they live in rural areas, just as voters for the Czech Communist Party. The key variables affecting support for the Party of the Democratic Left are location in an urban environment and low levels of adherence to the Catholic faith. These are more important factors than income and unemployment, which form the cornerstone of SMER’s support.

 

Bibliography and Sources:

Franěk, O. (1975): Rosicko-oslavansko v roce 1920 [Rosice – Oslavany region in the year 1920]. Praha: Krajské středisko státní památkové péče a ochrany přírody v Brně.

Gyarfášová, O. – Krivý, V. (2007). Electoral Behaviour - Persistent Volatility or Clear Signs of Consolidation?: The Case of Slovakia, In: V.Hloušek – R. Chytilek. (eds): Parliamentary Elections and Party Landscape in the Visegrad Group Countries, Brno, Democracy and Culture Studies Centre,  p. 79-106.

Hendl, J. (2006): Přehled statistických metod zpracování dat: analýza a metaanalýza dat [Survey of statistical methods and data processing: analysis and metaanalysis of dates], Praha, Portál.

Hloušek, V. -  Kopeček, L. (2010):  Politics and International Relations, Aldershot, Ashgate.

Jehlička, P. - Sýkora, L. (1991): Stabilita regionální podpory tradičních politických stran v českých zemích (1920 – 1990) [Regional stability and support for traditional Political Parties in Czech Lands],  Praha, Sborník ČGS 96 (2).

Kopeček, L. (2007): Politické strany na Slovensku 1989 – 2006 [Political Parties in Slovakia 1989 – 2006], Brno, Centrum pro studium demokracie a kultury.

Kostelecký, T. (2001): Vzestup nebo pád politického regionalismu? [Rise or fall of Political Regionalism?], Praha, Sociologický ústav AV ČR, Working papers 2001 (9).

Krivý, V. (2011): Voliči v parlamentných volbách 2010 – analýza volebných výsledkov [Voters in parliamentary election 2010 – analysis of electoral results]. In: Z. Bútorová – O. Gyrfášová – G. Mesežnikov – M. Kollár (eds.): Slovenské volby 2010. Bratislava, IVO.

Lewis, P. (2000): Political Parties in Post-Communist Eastern Europe. New York: Routlegde.

Madleňák, T. (2012): Regionálna diferenciácia volebného správania na Slovensku (1998 – 2010) [Electoral behaviour in Slovakia. Regional defferentiation of parliamentary results (1998 – 2010)], Bratislava: Veda.

Pink, M. (2010). Volební geografie [Electoral geography]. In: S. Balík (eds.): Volby do Poslanecké sněmovny v roce 2010. Brno, Centrum pro studium demokracie a kultury.

Pink, M. - Kyloušek, J. (2009): Voličská základna sociálnědemokratických stran v bývalém Československu a její prostorové proměny [Electoral base of the social democratic parties in former Czechoslovakia and their spatial changes]. Evropská volební studia, Brno: ISPO, 1/IV.,1 - 21, 21 pp.

Sartori, G. (1976): Parties and Party Systems. A Framework for Analysis, I., Cambridge University Press.

Šaradín, P. (2006). Analýza volební podpory ČSSD a ODS ve volbách do Poslanecké sněmovny PČR [Analysis of electoral support ČSSD and ODS in the election in to the Chamber of Deputies PČR]. In: J. Němec – M. Šůstková (eds.): III. Kongres českých politologů, Olomouc 8.–10. 9. 2006.  Praha, Olomouc.

Czech Statistical Office, http://www.czso.cz, http://www.volby.cz

Statistical Office of the Slovak Republic, http://www.statistics.sk 

INCOMA GfK. 2010. Purchasing power 2010.

 

 

Appendix

 

Table No. 6. Basic parameter of regress model ČSSD 2010

 

B

Beta

Constant

34,476

 

Catholic

0,041

0,145

Income

-1,266

-0,300

Unemployment

0,441

0,424

Urbanization

0,013

0,051

Coeff. determination

0,467

 

Table No. 7. Basic parameter of regress model ČSSD 2006

 

B

Beta

Constant

46,402

 

Catholic

0,056

0,186

Income

-1,455

-0,321

Unemployment

0,429

0,384

Urbanization

0,023

0,086

Coeff. determination

0,470

 

Table No. 8. Basic parameter of regress model ČSSD 2002

 

B

Beta

Constant

24,499

 

Catholic

0,045

0,190

Income

0,069

0,019

Unemployment

0,284

0,324

Urbanization

0,017

0,080

Coeff. determination

0,116

 

Table No. 9 Basic parameter of regress model ČSSD 1998

 

B

Beta

Constant

40,521

 

Catholic

-0,023

-0,074

Income

-0,931

-0,202

Unemployment

0,625

0,550

Urbanization

0,008

0,031

Coeff. determination

0,483

 

Table No. 10 Basic parameter of regress model ČSSD 1996

 

B

Beta

Constant

36,996

 

Catholic

-0,027

-0,082

Income

-1,233

-0,250

Unemployment

0,572

0,471

Urbanization

0,040

0,141

Coeff. determination

0,479

 

Table No. 11. Basic parameter of regress model KSČM 2010

 

B

Beta

Constant

36,865

 

Catholic

-0,075

-0,363

Income

-1,542

-0,496

Unemployment

0,073

0,096

Urbanization

-0,031

-0,169

Coeff. determination

0,293

 

Table No 12 Basic parameter of regress model KSČM 2006

 

B

Beta

Constant

35,975

 

Catholic

-0,089

-0,399

Income

-1,351

-0,401

Unemployment

0,174

0,210

Urbanization

-0,043

-0,217

Coeff. determination

0,314

 

Table No 13 Basic parameter of regress model KSČM 2002

 

B

Beta

Constant

44,122

 

Catholic

-0,134

-0,418

Income

-1,577

-0,326

Unemployment

0,452

0,379

Urbanization

-0,048

-0,171

Coeff. determination

0,428

 

Table No. 14 Basic parameter of regress model KSČM 1998

 

B

Beta

Constant

27,228

 

Catholic

-0,070

-0,337

Income

-0,898

-0,286

Unemployment

0,181

0,234

Urbanization

-0,047

-0,257

Coeff. determination

0,227

 

Table No. 15 Basic parameter of regress model KSČM 1996

 

B

Beta

Constant

23,678

 

Catholic

-0,085

-0,433

Income

-0,644

-0,218

Unemployment

0,113

0,155

Urbanization

-0,044

-0,256

Coeff. determination

0,181

 

Table No. 16 Basic parameter of regress model SMER 2010 

 

B

Beta

Constant

84,865

 

Catholic

-0,037

-0,057

Income

-2,455

-0,704

Unemployment

-0,427

-0,258

Urbanization

0,053

0,097

Coeff. determination

0,182

 

Table No. 17. Basic parameter of regress model SMER 2006 

 

B

Beta

Constant

70,923

 

Catholic

-0,103

-0,219

Income

-1,925

-0,747

Unemployment

-0,247

-0,202

Urbanization

0,066

0,164

Coeff. determination

0,245

 

Table No. 18 Basic parameter of regress model SMER 2002 

 

B

Beta

Constant

28,746

 

Catholic

-0,048

-0,281

Income

-0,544

-0,583

Unemployment

-0,246

-0,556

Urbanization

0,020

0,136

Coeff. determination

0,108

 

Table No. 19 Basic parameter of regress model SDL 1998 

 

B

Beta

Constant

22,175

 

Catholic

-0,106

-0,448

Income

-0,092

-0,071

Unemployment

-0,006

-0,010

Urbanization

0,028

0,139

Coeff. determination

0,189

 

Table No. 20 Basic parameter of regress model SMER Spol. Volba (Comm. Vote) 1994 

 

B

Beta

Constant

12,844

 

Catholic

-0,103

-0,547

Income

0,100

0,098

Unemployment

0,042

0,087

Urbanization

0,042

0,260

Coeff. determination

0,441

 

Map No. 5. Administrative division of the Czech Republic

 

Id mapa

Název ORP

Id mapa

Název ORP

Id mapa

Název ORP

4101

3205

Klatovy

5311

Přelouč

2101

Benešov

2110

Kolín

7109

Přerov

2102

Beroun

7103

Konice

3210

Přeštice

4201

Bílina

8112

Kopřivnice

2120

Příbram

8101

Bílovec

5208

Kostelec nad Orlicí

2121

Rakovník

6201

Blansko

5305

Králíky

3211

Rokycany

3101

Blatná

3206

Kralovice

6214

Rosice

3201

Blovice

2111

Kralupy nad Vltavou

4211

Roudnice nad Labem

6202

Boskovice

4104

Kraslice

7206

Rožnov pod Radhoštěm

2103

Brandýs nad Labem - Stará Boleslav

8113

Kravaře

4212

Rumburk

6203

Brno

8114

Krnov

5213

Rychnov nad Kněžnou

5201

Broumov

7203

Kroměříž

8120

Rýmařov

8103

Bruntál

6209

Kuřim

2122

Říčany

6204

Břeclav

2112

Kutná Hora

2123

Sedlčany

6205

Bučovice

6210

Kyjov

5107

Semily

6101

Bystřice nad Pernštejnem

5306

Lanškroun

2124

Slaný

7201

Bystřice pod Hostýnem

5105

Liberec

6215

Slavkov u Brna

2104

Čáslav

7104

Lipník nad Bečvou

3110

Soběslav

2105

Černošice

4205

Litoměřice

4107

Sokolov

5101

Česká Lípa

5307

Litomyšl

3212

Stod

5301

Česká Třebová

7105

Litovel

3111

Strakonice

3102

České Budějovice

4206

Litvínov

3213

Stříbro

2106

Český Brod

4207

Louny

3214

Sušice

3103

Český Krumlov

4208

Lovosice

6111

Světlá nad Sázavou

8104

Český Těšín

7204

Luhačovice

5312

Svitavy

3104

Dačice

2113

Lysá nad Labem

6216

Šlapanice

4202

Děčín

4105

Mariánské Lázně

7110

Šternberk

5202

Dobruška

2114

Mělník

7111

Šumperk

2107

Dobříš

6211

Mikulov

3112

Tábor

3202

Domažlice

3107

Milevsko

3215

Tachov

5203

Dvůr Králové nad Labem

2115

Mladá Boleslav

5108

Tanvald

8105

Frenštát pod Radhoštěm

2116

Mnichovo Hradiště

6112

Telč

8106

Frýdek-Místek

7106

Mohelnice

4213

Teplice

5102

Frýdlant

5308

Moravská Třebová

6217

Tišnov

8107

Frýdlant nad Ostravicí

6106

Moravské Budějovice

3113

Trhové Sviny

7213

Zlín

6212

Moravský Krumlov

5214

Trutnov

8108

Havířov

4209

Most

6113

Třebíč

6102

Havlíčkův Brod

5209

Náchod

3114

Třeboň

5302

Hlinsko

6107

Náměšť nad Oslavou

8121

Třinec

8109

Hlučín

3207

Nepomuk

5109

Turnov

6206

Hodonín

2117

Neratovice

3115

Týn nad Vltavou

7202

Holešov

5210

Nová Paka

7207

Uherské Hradiště

5303

Holice

6108

Nové Město na Moravě

7208

Uherský Brod

3203

Horažďovice

5211

Nové Město nad Metují

7112

Uničov

3204

Horšovský Týn

8102

Bohumín

4214

Ústí nad Labem

5204

Hořice

5106

Nový Bor

5313

Ústí nad Orlicí

2108

Hořovice

5212

Nový Bydžov

7209

Valašské Klobouky

5205

Hradec Králové

8115

Nový Jičín

7210

Valašské Meziříčí

7101

Hranice

2118

Nymburk

4215

Varnsdorf

6103

Humpolec

3208

Nýřany

6114

Velké Meziříčí

6207

Hustopeče

8116

Odry

6218

Veselí nad Moravou

4102

Cheb

7107

Olomouc

3116

Vimperk

4203

Chomutov

8117

Opava

8122

Vítkov

6104

Chotěboř

8118

Orlová

7211

Vizovice

5304

Chrudim

8119

Ostrava

2125

Vlašim

6208

Ivančice

4106

Ostrov

3117

Vodňany

5103

Jablonec nad Nisou

7205

Otrokovice

2126

Votice

8110

Jablunkov

6109

Pacov

5215

Vrchlabí

5206

Jaroměř

5309

Pardubice

7212

Vsetín

7102

Jeseník

6110

Pelhřimov

5314

Vysoké Mýto

5207

Jičín

3108

Písek

6219

Vyškov

6105

Jihlava

3209

Plzeň

7113

Zábřeh

5104

Jilemnice

4210

Podbořany

6220

Znojmo

3105

Jindřichův Hradec

2119

Poděbrady

5315

Žamberk

4204

Kadaň

6213

Pohořelice

4216

Žatec

3106

Kaplice

5310

Polička

6115

Žďár nad Sázavou

4103

Karlovy Vary

2100

Praha

5110

Železný Brod

8111

Karviná

3109

Prachatice

6221

Židlochovice

2109

Kladno

7108

Prostějov

-

-

 

 

Map No. 6. Administrative divisions of the Slovak Republic

 

 


[1] Contact: Faculty of Social Studies, Masaryk University, Brno, Czech Republic. E-mail: pink@fss.muni.cz.

[2] Purchasing power is defined as purchasing power per thousand residents (or households).  This will serve as an index indicating which areas are above or below the average for the Republic in terms of income.

[3] Including five Bratislava districts and four Kosice districts.

[4] The Pearson correlation coefficient, in spite of some deficiencies, remains the "most important measure of the strength of two continuous random variables X and Y." (Hendl 2006) It takes on values in the interval [-1, +1]. If either of the boundary values is reached, the relationship is perfectly correlated, either negatively or positively. It should nevertheless be borne in mind that the coefficient is significantly influenced by outliers. Its values and the interpretations for individual relationships between two variables may be broken down as follows: 0.01-0.09: trivial to none; 0.10-0.29: low to mid; 0.30-0.49: mid to substantial; 0.50-0.69: substantial to very substantial; 0.70-0.89: very substantial; 0.90-0.99: almost perfect.

[5] 2002 results calculated for the coalition as a whole

[6] Lewis distinguishes six families of political parties: Postcomunist, Social-democrats, Liberals and free trade oriented conservatives, Ethnic groups, Agrarians, Cristian democrats and traditional conservatives, Nationalists (Lewis 2000).

[7] Based upon historical circumstances and long-term monitoring of the above-average support for KSCM, the author is of the opinion that social characteristics based upon historical circumstances are at the root of this  (Franěk 1975)

[8] Both Trebic and Vyskov enjoyed a high status under the previous regime because they were the location of military units or nuclear power facilities.

[9] The party had an external competitor, Združení Robotníků Slovenska (Slovakia Workers’ Association), whose platform was also social democratic and which, in contrast to the Party of the Democratic Left, was in opposition before the elections. Another factor lay in the nature of early elections and the gradually solidifying Slovak party environment.

[10] The Coefficient of Determination shows the ratio of explained variance to total variance and confirms the validity of our individual conclusions. The higher its value, the greater the explanatory power of the variables and the more precise the conclusions it permits, similarly as with the use of the correlation coefficient (Hendl 2006). 



Copyright (c) 2012 Michal Pink

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