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19-10-2014

Analysts: Senate elections a 'win' for ruling coalition

Political analysts are characterizing the elections to the Czech Senate as mainly a win for the country's ruling coalition. Experts contacted by the Czech News Agency suggested in the past Senate elections had often seen protest votes, which they said had not been the case this time around. The ruling centre-left coalition of the Social Democrats, ANO and the Christian Democrats won enough seats to secure a comfortable majority in the upper chamber of Parliament. The STEM polling agency's Jan Hartl called the results a 'positive signal' for the government. At the same time, the election saw a record-low turnout by voters, leading some to again question the necessity of the upper house. The big loser in the Senate election, political analysts suggest, is the right-of-centre party TOP 09, which failed to win a single seat in four races in the second round.

Pehe: Christian Democrats in good position to become main right-wing party

Analysts also see the Senate results as strong confirmation that the Christian Democrats have returned as a significant political force. On Saturday, they clinched four seats; in addition, three Christian Democrat/Green candidates also won. Political analyst Jiří Pehe told Rádio Impuls the party was well-positioned and could become the main force on the political right; he suggested the party had done well because its priorities and values were well-understood by voters. The other parties on the right side of the spectrum, the Civic Democrats and TOP 09, have lost support since the collapse of the centre-right government of Petr Něcas.

Czech mountaineer dies in Austrian Alps

A Czech mountaineer died on Saturday in the Austrian Alps. The 40-year-old climber fell to his death when a safety device snapped on a descent on Reichenspitze. The mountaineer was descending with a fellow climber after having successfully reached the 3,303 metre high peak. At the time of the accident he and the other climber had been making their way down to the Rainbachkees glacier. The other climber eventually reached a mountain chalet on his own to inform the authorities. A helicopter was sent to the scene of the fall; there was nothing medics could do for the mountaineer.

President suggests candidates' personalities, not political affiliation, were important for voters

Czech President Miloš Zeman maintains that candidates' personalities rather than political affiliation played a deciding role in the second round of the Senate elections. He expressed the view on Sunday through his spokesman Jiří Ovčáček. The head-of-state also suggested that a lower voter turnout in the Senate elections was par for course, saying that voters lost interest if their candidate failed to make it to the second round.

Schwarzenberg admits changes needed in TOP 09

The head of TOP 09, Karel Schwarzenberg, has reflected on his party's failure to win a single seat in the Senate elections. He promised that the party would begin internal reforms at once, but also made clear the current leadership would remain until a leadership conference was held next year. There is speculation that Mr Schwarzenberg, who is 76, is planning on stepping down. Last week, members of TOP 09's Prague branch quit the party following a long period of infighting. The party lost in Prague, coming second in the communal elections.

Police experts continue search at munitions depot

Police pyrotechnics experts have gotten within 300 metres of the epicenter of a blast which destroyed a munitions depot, using a remote control drone and heavy equipment. For the second day they are investigating the site in the village of Vrbětice in South Moravia. Equipment they are using includes an armored vehicle and a special firefighters' 'tank'. Two people have been missing since the blast on Thursday and are feared dead.

Tennis: Berdych clinches 10th career title

Czech men's tennis No.1 Tomáš Berdych won his tenth career title in Stockholm on Sunday, defeating Bulgarian opponent Grigor Dimitrov. Berdych won by a score of 5:7, 6:4, 6:4. The win keeps open Berdych's chances of clinching one of the remaining slots in the upcoming ATP World Finals.

19-10-2014