Voters have begun going to the polls in general elections in the Czech Republic that will conclude at 2 pm on Saturday. Czechs have also been casting their ballots at the country’s diplomatic missions abroad.
Having received their voting papers in the post, the country’s eight million-plus eligible voters are choosing from a record 31 groupings.
Between them the parties have fielded around 7,500 candidates, meaning that more than three dozen candidates on average are in the running for each seat in the 200-mandate Chamber of Deputies.
Of those putting themselves forward for election under the Czech Republic’s system of proportional representation, one-third are women.
To date the 2010–2013 Chamber of Deputies has had the highest proportion of female members, with 21.10 percent.
Less than half of that level of female participation was seen in the first lower house following the foundation of the independent Czech Republic. These general elections are the seventh since 1993.
Czech voters abroad have also been casting their ballots at the country’s diplomatic missions around the globe, of which there are over 100.
Some Czechs in relatively large states travel enormous distances to take part in the elections. However, despite some calls to introduce it, the country does not have a postal ballot system.
It is the fourth general election in which voting abroad is possible and more than 9,000 people are registered.
In the 2013 elections over 10,500 Czechs cast their votes abroad. The Czech Embassy in London has the most registered voters at present with 800. Brussels and Paris are also expected to register significant participation.
Ballots cast by Czechs abroad are counted in a randomly selected constituency, which this time is South Bohemia.
The counting of votes will begin when polls close on Saturday early afternoon. The results should start to become clear a couple of hours later.