Social Democrat leader Bohuslav Sobotka has admitted that Saturday’s
result was less than he or his party expected but said his party would
nevertheless try and form a stable government, while upholding programme
priorities. On Saturday, he said he would head a negotiating team that
would meet with all of the parties in the lower house, with the exception
of the right-of-centre TOP 09 and the Civic Democrats. He also said that
he failed to put together a new government, he would step down.
On Saturday evening, members of the Social Democrats met for early talks with representatives of the Communist Party, including party leader Vojtěch Filip. The meeting lasted 45 minutes, and touched briefly on programme priorities and other areas, according to reports.
In related news, ANO leader Andrej Babiš has said that a coalition between his party, the Social Democrats and the Christian Democrats was a possibility, providing the parties were able to find agreement on programme priorities. He made clear that if ANO entered into a coalition he was interested iin the post of finance minister. Mr Babiš stressed he had heard no word from the Social Democrats yet.
The result is the worst-ever in a national election for the once-dominant Civic Democrats. The party ahead of the election had 53 mandates in the lower house and retained just 15 – a difference of 38. The result follows scandals which plagued the previous government as well as the former prime minister, Petr Nečas. Acting party leader Martin Kuba called the result a “major defeat” and said the Civic Democrats would head into opposition. He stressed that the party would continue inner-party changes kick-started after the fall of the government.
The Social Democratic Party has won the country’s general election but
failed to secure a decisive victory sought by party leader Bohuslav
Sobotka. The party had hoped to gain one-third of the vote to form a
minority government (tacitly-supported by the Communists). But with all of
the ballots counted, the Social Democrats secured only 20.4
percent, making it clear the party will seek coalition talks with other
potential coalition partners (with the apparent exception of
right-of-centre TOP 09 and the Civic Democrats).
There is no guarantee, however, that Mr Sobotka will get the nod from President Zeman to try and form the next government. The president made clear in the past that he would only choose a prime minister designate from the “winning party”, leading to speculation he could choose someone other than its leader, presumably from a more closely-aligned wing.
Two people died at polling stations in this year’s early elections. On Friday a senior, aged 81, collapsed and died shortly after casting her ballot in Frýdek-Místek, and on Saturday, a 77-year-old member of a local elections committee in the Chrudim area suddenly collapsed and could not be saved by medics. The local mayor said, as a result, a back-up had to be called in; he said the deceased had been well-known in the area.
The parties that made it into the lower house of Parliament: Social
Democrats (20.4%), ANO 2011 (18.6%), Communist Party (14.9%), TOP 09
Civic Democrats (7.6%), Dawn (6.9%), Christian Democrats (6.77%).
Translated into mandates in the 200-member Chamber of Deputies: Social Democrats (50), ANO 2011 (47), Communist Party (33), TOP 09 (26), Civic Democrats (16), Dawn (14), Christian Democrats (14).
The upstart party ANO 2011, led by billionaire businessman-turned-politician Andrej Babiš, secured the most surprising result of the election this year. The party, running a highly-effective protest campaign, finished second with 18.6 percent of the vote, outpacing not only the Communists, who were third (with 14.9 percent), but also two of the parties from the former government, TOP 09 and the Civic Democrats. TOP 09, led by Karel Schwarzenberg, finished with 11.9 percent of the vote, and the Civic Democrats, led by Miroslava Němcová, secured 7.7 percent.
According to public broadcaster Czech TV, voter turnout in the early election was just under 60 percent; 40 percent of voters cast their ballot on Friday, but Saturday saw a relative drop in the numbers. Parts of Prague saw lower turnout than for example three years ago: in 2010, 69 percent in the city’s Jižní město voted; this time, the turnout was not as strong: between 55 and 61 percent. Other parts of the country saw a similar turnout, according to information released by the Czech News Agency earlier on Saturday the regions of Plzeň, Hradec Králové and Zlín saw numbers of around 50 percent or more.
This year’s election also saw other major surprises, among them the success of a ‘second’ protest party, Dawn, led by Czech-Japanese businessman turned senator Tomio Okamura. Dawn, with what many pundits regard as a strongly populist message, made it into the Chamber of Deputies with 7 percent of the vote. The election also saw the successful return to the lower house of the Christian Democrats led by Pavel Bělobrádek (6.8 percent), a long-established party that failed to make it into the Chamber of Deputies last time.
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