>What price Czech democracy? About three quid a vote

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The Czech press reported that Roma in Ostrava were each being paid 100 crowns (about 4 euros or £3 sterling) to vote for the Social Democrats, although there seems to be no real evidence that the practice of vote buying (a not unknown occurence in some countries in SE Europe) has spread to Central Europe. And why should the Social Democrats have bothered when they could more easily buy the votes of Roma and non-Roma alike with promise of generous welfare benefits and an an extra ’13th month’ pension payment?
In fact, however, 100kč per vote does seem to be about the going rate for a moderately successful political party – at least in terms of campaign expenses. A quick analysis of parties officially declared campaign spending this year as reported in Hospodářské noviny of 31 May shows. Of course, for less established parties, which shed votes things are more expensive: 170-190 crowns for the Socia,l Civic and Christian Democrats, while new parties TOP09 and Public Affairs pull votes much more cheaply, even if you are sceptical about the officially declared total spending, which seem suspiously low. The Communists, whose vote stood still, who are known for their cheapo campaigns probably represent a happy median: so, if you are thinking of launching a new party in the Czech Republic – and I think it could catching – budget for an outlay of about 30 million.

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