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.
Three parties in the country's centre-left coalition won 18 out of 27
seats up for grabs in the Senate elections. The coalition will enjoy a
majority of 46 in the 81-member upper chamber of Parliament. The Social
Democrats clinched 10 seats, the ANO movement four, and the Christian
Democrats four. All the same, the position of the Social Democrats
weakened: until now, the leftist party had dominated the Senate, they now
have 35 seats overall.
The opposition Civic Democrats, Mayors and Independents (STAN) and the Greens won two seats each. The small Party of Citizens´ Rights and the Party of Entrepreneurs won one seat each.
The vote turnout was a record low, below 17 percent.
Notable personalities who won their senate race include the former rector of Charles University Václav Hampl, the founder of the Our Child Foundation Zuzana Baudyšová, the Minister for Human Rights Jiří Dienstbier, and lottery firm billionaire Ivo Valenta.
ANO leader in Brno, Petr Vokřál, is set to become mayor of the country’s second largest city after his party on Friday struck a deal to form a coalition with the Live Brno movement along with the Christian Democrats and the Greens. Details of the coalition deal are to be finalized by the end of the month. This comes as a blow to the Social Democrats who controlled the city hall for the past eight years and came second in the local elections last week. Coalition talks in Prague and other large Czech cities are ongoing.
The three parties of the ruling coalition are poised to fulfill their election promises and scrap the second pillar of the pension insurance scheme introduced by the former center-right cabinet of prime minister Petr Nečas. The Social Democrats and the Christian Democratic Party would like to see it scrapped as of 2016, but Finance Minister Andrej Babiš’ ANO party is advising caution for fear that the move could spark a wave of legal complaints both from clients and financial institutions.
Potential partners at Prague City Hall ANO, the Social Democrats and the Three-Party coalition will meet at the end of the week for negotiations on a new coalition, the Czech News Agency reports. Prague Social Democrat leader Miloslav Ludvík (the head of Motol Hospital) said that ANO and Social Democrats representatives had found no major hurdles when comparing programmes. ANO won the municipal elections in Prague at the weekend, securing 17 seats, just ahead of right-of-centre party TOP 09, with whom they said they would not cooperate. If ANO, the Social Democrats and the Three-Party coalition (which includes the Greens) reach deal, they will hold a slim majority of 33 seats out of 65 at Prague City Hall.
Negotiations on the formation of local councils are being held around the country in the wake of the weekend elections. While local groups and independent candidates traditionally won the most votes in the regions, the ANO party of the ruling coalition –which entered the Czech political scene as an alternative to the established parties - dominated in most of the big cities, including Prague. The outcome has led many to consider whether the established parties are losing their grip on Czech politics. I asked political analyst Jiří Pehe for his take
The prime minister and head of the Social Democratic Party Bohuslav Sobotka has expressed regret over statements by ANO leader Andrej Babiš suggesting that the ANO movement was not interested in forming coalitions with the Social Democrats in the cities of Brno and Ostrava, that would have mirrored cooperation between the two parties at the national level. The prime minister called Mr Babiš’ statements about Brno and Ostrava after the weekend's municipal election results “short-sighted” and suggested coalitions with his own party would lead to greater stability. He also suggested indirectly to the Czech News Agency that ANO needed to ask its negotiators what went wrong in Olomouc, where ANO finished first but were left with a Pyrrhic victory after a deal there was quickly struck between local Social Democrats, TOP 09, and the Civic and Christian Democrats.
In the capital of Prague, the ANO party won with 22 percent of the vote,
followed by TOP 09 with 16 percent, and the coalition of Christian
democrats, the Greens and Mayors and Independent with over 11 percent.
Andrej Babiš’ ANO party has also won in most of the large cities, including Brno, Ostrava, Olomouc, Ústí nad Labem and České Budějovice. The Social Democrats, on the other hand, have lost eleven cities.
Negotiations have already begun in some municipalities about the formation of local councils. The head of the coalition ANO party, Andrej Babiš, has ruled out the possibility of forming a coalition with TOP 09 in Prague, which has failed to retain its position of the biggest party in the Czech capital. The ANO party is most likely to join forces with the Social Democrats and the three-way coalition of the Christian Democrats, Mayors and Independents, and the Green Party. Adriana Krnáčová, the ANO party’s candidate for Prague mayor said she will also hold talks with the Pirate Party.
After the first round of voting for one third of the seats in the Czech
Senate, 19 candidates of the Social Democrats will advance to the second
round, along with nine ANO candidates and nine members of the Christian
Democrats. Also making it to the second round are the Civic Democrats with
seven candidates. TOP 09 have four in the running and the Green Party two.
No senator was elected in the first round.
The turnout in the Senate elections was slightly below 39 percent, which is less than in the previous elections four years ago. A second round of voting in the Senate elections will take place next weekend. Independent groups leading in municipal elections