The pyrrhic election winner, the Social Democrats, give themselves little
chance of forming a coalition government. Although the party won most
votes, 22.2 percent of the total and is the single biggest party in the
lower house with 56 seats, it was far short of pre-election polls of around
30.0 percent. The only other party on the left, the Communists, won 26
seats, meaning that a combination would fall well short of a majority.
Social Democrat leader Jiří Paroubek announced his resignation before all the results were in but when the election debacle was already clear on Saturday evening. He handed over management of the party to its first deputy chairman Bohuslav Sobotka. Mr Sobotka said he was “very sceptical” about the chances of a coalition including the Social Democrats. He added that leaders of both TOP 09 and Public Affairs had rejected cooperation with the party. Mr. Sobotka said he thought President Václav Klaus should conduct talks with all parties over the coming days. He added that constitutional practice should be respected and the Social Democrats given the first chance to form a government.
Leaders of the centre-right parties the Civic Democrats and TOP 09 and
Public Affairs are prepared to hold talks about a coalition government.
Civic Democrat leader Petr Nečas and Karel Schwarzenberg agreed to launch
talks on a coalition partnership next week at a short meeting on Saturday.
The two parties appear in pole position to forge a government with the
Civic Democrats winning 53 and TOP 09 41 seats in the 200-seat lower house.
A deal with Public Affairs, with 24 seats, would give them a comfortable
majority with 118 seats. Public Affairs leader Radek John talked with the
Civic Democrat leader on Sunday morning and said his party was ready to
launch talks on Monday. A meeting of Civic Democrats on Sunday should agree
a negotiating team.
The Civic Democrats and TOP 09 both put curbing the Czech public deficit at the top of their priorities for a future government. Mr. Nečas said the election result made a government of “fiscal responsibility” possible. He ruled out on Czech Television on Sunday a coalition with the left-wing Social Democrats saying it would bring no benefit to the country.
Czech tennis player Tomáš Berdych faces Andy Murray, the fourth seed from Scotland, for a place in the last eight of the French Open Men’s Singles on Sunday. The last Czech in the singles competition last faced Murray four years ago and won. Berdych, seeded 15, got to the last 16 beating US player John Isner in straight sets: 6:2, 6:2, 6:1 in the third round.
The new look lower house will have the most women lawmakers since elections following the end of Communism. Forty-four women lawmakers will take their seats in the lower house, an advance on the 31 during the pervious term. While the average age of lawmakers in the new house is around 18 months lower than the outgoing one, it is still just over 47 with TOP 09 leader Karel Schwarzenberg the oldest at 72. A total of 86 outgoing members of the lower house retained their seats, that is a drop from the 115 who held on in 2006.
Top 09 deputy leader Miroslav Kalousek described Public Affairs’ negotiating demands as a sign of either political inexperience or a desire to close off post election partnership talks. He added that starting negotiations on television live was the best way of getting agreement on nothing. Mr. Kalousek said that TOP 09’s priorities clearly set out the demand for equal rights and conditions for everyone, adding that clear guidelines were needed to prevent the country running budget deficits.
President Václav Klaus will start talks about the formation of a future
government with all five leaders of parties which made it into the lower
house. The round of talks will begin with the leader of the Social
Democrats, Bohuslav Sobotka, on Monday. The party gained most votes and
seats in elections to the lower house on Friday and Saturday but looks like
having little chance of creating a workable coalition. The President’s
spokesman said talks would continue with leaders of the parties with the
next best results.
President Klaus had raised some questions over whether he would follow precedent and give the leader of the biggest party in the lower house a first shot at forming a government. Asked about whether he would follow this traditional procedure on Saturday, president Klaus said: "I think it will be this way, but we all well know that it may get tangled up. We'll see who will be second, third, fourth, and what their strength is." Previously he had clearly signalled he would follow precedent and his own previous practice.
Social Democrats gain most votes but centre and centre-right parties get
majority of seats in lower house.
The final elections results gave the left of centre Social Democrats most
votes with 22.08 percent followed by the Civic Democrats on 20.22 percent,
according to the Czech Statistical Office. The recently created TOP 09
party was third with 16.7 percent followed by the Communists with 11.27
percent and the Public Affairs party with 10.88 percent. The Christian
Democrats and the party of former Social Democrat prime minister Miloš
Zeman were both just under the 5.0 percent threshold to entry to the lower
house with around 4.5 percent. The turnout was 62.6 percent.
These figures translate into 56 seats in the 200-seat lower house for the Social Democrats. The Civic Democrats would gain 53 seats, TOP 09 41 seats, the Communists 26 seats and Public Affairs 24 seats. The Social Democrats won most votes in most regions of the country apart from the Liberec, Hradec Králové, Southern Bohemia and Central Czech regions won by the Civic Democrats. TOP 09 was the most popular party in the former Civic Democrat bastion, Prague, with around 27 percent of support.
Prague’s Civic Democrat mayor Pavel Bém resigned on Sunday as party chairman in the capital. The move follows the centre-right party being beaten into second place in lower house elections in the capital by the Top 09 party. Headed by party leader Karel Schwarzenberg, TOP 09 won 27.3 percent of the votes against the Civic Democrats 24.8 percent. A meeting of party bosses in the afternoon accepted the resignation offer. Civic Democrat leader Petr Nečas said during a television debate earlier that the offer was a logical and correct step. He said the party’s most dramatic fall in support nationwide took place in Prague.
Public Affairs leader Radek John listed a series of conditions for his membership of a centre-right coalition on Saturday night. Fulfilling the party’s pledge to fight corruption was one condition and he also demanded a 10 billion crown transfer from the Ministry of Defence budget to the Ministry of Education. Mr. John said on Sunday the party would conduct tough talks about its coalition membership and would not sacrifice party priorities for a few ministerial seats.
Czechs living abroad mostly cast their ballots for the TOP 09 party with 39.59 percent of votes heading its way. The Civic Democrats came second with 27.36 percent, the Greens won 10.52 percent, the Social Democrats 6.14 percent and Public Affairs 5.32 percent. The Czech Statistical Office said just over 77 percent of the 10,000 voters registered abroad cast their votes. In 2006, the total was just under 84 percent.
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