By contrast, parties that failed to pass the five percent threshold included the Citizens’ Rights – Zemanites (supported by the current president) who secured only 1.5 percent of the vote. The Green Party, headed by Ondřej Liška, secured just 3.1 percent of the vote and the right-wing coalition Heads Up aheaded by Jana Bobošíková also finished well short of the five percent needed (0.42 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.
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 police uncovered a seventh body part, a human foot, in the Vltava River in Prague not far from Barrandov Bridge. An autopsy will be needed to confirm whether it belonged to a woman whose murder was first discovered in the middle of October. Almost all of the victim’s remains have been recovered, minus the head which would determine her identity. The woman is believed to have been between 30 to 40 years old; she had several identifying features or marks, including a piercing and a scar from a past operation. The police investigated a similar murder of a 50 year-old two years ago which went unsolved; they have not revealed whether the cases could be connected.
Voting is underway on the first day of Czech general elections. Polls across the country opened at 2 PM on Friday, and will close at 10 PM. On Saturday, polling stations will reopen again between 8 AM and 2 PM. Preliminary results are expected some three hours later. The elections were triggered by the fall of the centre-right government of former prime minister Petr Nečas; twenty-three parties and groupings are contesting seats in the 200-strong lower house. Seventeen of them are fielding candidates in all fourteen regions, with the highest number of parties and groupings registered in Prague.
Close to 8,000 Czechs abroad have registered to vote in the elections; some of them have travelled hundreds of kilometres to the nearest polling station. There are 104 polling stations outside the Czech Republic, mostly at Czech embassies and consulates. Czechs abroad are selecting candidates from the central Bohemian ballot.
Most Czech university rectors will boycott the celebrations of Czechoslovak Independence Day held at Prague Castle on October 28, the Czech Rectors Conference said. 21 out of 26 rectors of Czech public universities will not attend the event in solidarity with two of their colleagues – Masaryk University’s Mikuláš Bek and South Bohemian University’s Libor Grubhoffer – who were not invited to attend over past arguments with President Miloš Zeman who formally hosts the event. Prague Mayor Tomáš Hudeček has announced he would not be present either, along with mayors of a number of other cities and towns. A spokeswoman for the president said it was a personal decision of each invitee whether they will attend or not.
In related news, President Miloš Zeman on Friday clarified the reasons behind his decision not to invite two university rectors to Monday’s celebrations of Czechoslovak Independence Day. The rector of Brno’s Masaryk University, Mikuláš Bek prevented the president from giving a lecture to university students during his visit to Brno last month over concerns of political campaigning; President Zeman said on Friday he considered the refusal an insult to the head of state. The other rector omitted from the guest list, Libor Grubhoffer from the South Bohemian University, meanwhile, was not invited because he backed literary historian Martin C. Putna whom the president refused to appoint professor.
A former dean of Charles University’s 1st Faculty of Medicine, Tomáš Zima has been elected the university’s new rector. Mr Zima received 42 out of 70 votes in the second round of voting by the Academic Senate, beating the other candidate, deputy rector Stanislav Štech. Tomáš Zima will assume his post in February when the four-year term of his predecessor, Václav Hampl, expires. Mr Zima, who is 47, served as the dean of the medical school until last year when he became the head of the faculty’s Institute of Medical Biochemistry and Laboratory Diagnostics.
Vodafone Czech Republic has lodged a complaint to the European Commission over an auction of mobile frequencies, a spokeswoman for the company said. In July, the Czech telecommunications regulator launched a rerun auction of frequencies that will allow operators to provide new 4G services; Vodafone complains that the rules of the new auction favour new competitors. The mobile phone operator also filed a lawsuit with a Czech court, and a petition to the country’s anti-monopoly agency over the auction.