>Czech Social Democrats to propose campaign spending ceiling
Czech Social Democrats are to present a bill to parliament in September introducing a ceiling for election campaign spending, reports yesterday’s online news service for Czech public radio. The exact level of the proposed cap is as yet unknown, but apparently it will be “between millions and tens of millions” (not clear if that’s per election, however – presumably it is). Given expenditure in a not untypical election year when parliamentary elections also coincide with local, regional and Senate elections, this would seem to imply a drastic cut. In 2006 the Social and Civic Democrats forked out hundreds of millions of crowns: ODS paid out 350 million of which some 228 went on the parliamentary election campaign; the Social Democrats 261 million overall and the smaller Christian Democrats, Communists and Greens having more modest outlays of 67, 40 and 26.4 million respectively.
The 64 thousand dollar (crown?) question is, of course, why the Social Democrats are doing this and whether they have any prospect of success? Presumably, the answer to the first question is that they are simply afraid of being outspent by the right, which may have easier access to business donations. Saturation advertising by the right, whose political marketing, might see the Social Democrats’ generally better organized and better thought through political marketing blunted by sheer cash. In theory, the smaller Czech parties too should have an interest in reining in the financial advantages of the two big parties, but in practice the Greens and Christian Democrats have a greater interest in the political success of the current government and some form of electoral re-engineering to give bigger representation to smaller parties, whilst clobbering middle sized players (i.e. the Communists) and not reducing big parties shares of seats overly.