There are 27 Czech political parties running in May’s general elections. Only a few of them have a realistic prospect of entering the lower house of Parliament, but they all drew numbers on Tuesday to put on their ballots. With the elections approaching, Czech expats around the world who want to cast their vote only have until this Saturday to register.
One plastic box with the names of all parties, another with numbers. The State Election Committee held a lottery on Tuesday, and allocated each of the 27 political parties and movements a number to run with in May’s general elections.
The party favoured by most polls, the Social Democrats, drew the number 9. Their biggest rivals, the liberal-conservative Civic Democrats, will run with number 26. Other parties that are likely to cross the five-percent threshold to enter the Chamber of Deputies include the Communists, number 6; the conservative TOP 09, number 15; the Christian Democrats, number 17; the Greens, with number 20; and a new party called Public Affairs, number 4.
One of the more bizarre political groups, called “Jesus is Our Lord”, will run under number 3. The party is running in just one of the 14 constituencies and the only candidate has reportedly stepped down, so the Jesus party might face some problems there. A right-wing, anti-communist grouping known as Pravý blok, or the Right Block, whose official name has 225 words, got number 18. Number 1 went to a marginal liberal group občané.cz, or citizens.cz; the lucky number 7 to the monarchist Bohemian Crown. And a new party formed around the former PM and ex-Social Democrat leader Miloš Zeman, called Citizens’ Rights Party, got the unlucky 13 – but some polls in fact suggest they might in fact get in with just over five percent.
Czech citizens abroad have of course a chance to cast their ballots for one of the parties as well. Polling stations will be set up at most Czech embassies and Consulates General around the world. Deputy Foreign Minister Hynek Kmoníček says that there are two ways Czech expats can take part in the elections – but they only have until Saturday to register.
“One of them is that you are included in the voters’ lists which are already open at places where Czech citizens can vote abroad. These lists will close on April 18. The other option is that you get a voter’s pass which says that you were excluded from the voters’ list at your place of residence. With this voter’s pass, you can walk in and vote at any polling station, irrespective whether it’s in the Czech Republic or abroad, at one of the Czech embassies and Consulates General.”
In the Czech Republic, polling stations will open on Friday, May 28 at 2 PM, and close at 10 PM the next day. However, the polls at Czech embassies and consulates in the Americas will open and close one day in advance because of the time shift. Czech expats’ votes from around the world will then be added to one of the Czech constituencies. In the previous elections, the votes were incorporated into the South Bohemian region – so where will they go this time?
“Surprisingly, it will be the very same region – South Bohemia. It was [decided in] a lottery, and the South Bohemia region won again, so that’s where voters from outside the country will be counted in.”
More information about voting abroad in the upcoming elections can be found – only in Czech – at the Foreign Ministry’s website www.mzv.cz.