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Voting has ended in the country’s regional and Senate elections. An estimated forty percent of eligible voters came to the polls to elect governors to 13 of the country’s 14 regional assemblies and senators to 27 out of 81 constituencies.

The Social Democrats have come out top in all thirteen regions, winning 36 percent of the vote, the ruling Civic Democrats are second with 23 percent, followed by the Communists with 15 percent and the two other parties in government – the Christian Democrats with 6,5 percent of the vote, and the Green Party with 3 percent.

The Social Democrats also dominated the Senate elections, where 25 of their 27 candidates will be taking part in the second round of elections next week. Twenty Civic Democrat candidates have made it to the second round, as have three Christian Democrats. A second round of voting will be held next week in 26 constituencies where no candidate won more than 50 percent of the vote. Social Democrat Radek Sušil was the only candidate to secure a seat in the Senate in the first round.

The leader of the ruling Civic Democrats, Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek has conceded defeat and urged voters to come to the polls in the second round of Senate elections in order to give the party a chance to maintain the Civic Democrats’ narrow majority in the Senate. Mr. Topolánek said that the party leadership would meet on Sunday to debate the party’s defeat.

Meanwhile, opposition leader Social Democrat Jiří Paroubek, whose party won outright in four of the 13 regions where voting took place and led in the remaining 9, has thanked voters for their support and promised that his party would stand by its election promises. He said the election was not over and urged them to come to the polls in the second round of elections to the Senate next weekend.

The balance of power in the Senate will be crucial for pending votes on planned reforms, the Lisbon treaty and Parliament’s approval for a US radar base to be built on Czech soil. The opposition Social Democrats are hoping that their strong showing in the elections will further undermine the government’s position and have initiated a no-confidence vote in the coalition government next Wednesday.