The parties of the ruling coalition, the Social Democrats, Christian Democrats and the Freedom Union lost their majority in the Upper House of parliament after the second round of the Senate elections this weekend. Most successful were members of the opposition right-of-centre Civic Democrats and independent candidates. The government coalition won nine out of 27 contested seats and fell seven seats short of majority. Elections to the Senate are held every two years to replace one third of the Senators.
In the local elections this weekend, independent candidates won more than a half of seats in local administration bodies nation-wide whereas none of the five main political parties exceeded 10 percent. The Christian Democrats won most seats of all the established political parties 9.6 percent, although as far as the number of votes is concerned, the right-of- centre Civic Democrats of Vaclav Klaus came first in the elections with 25 percent of the vote and will dominate town halls mainly in bigger towns and cities.
According to a recent survey conducted by the RCA Research agency, 70 percent of Czechs oppose the idea of a U.S.-led military campaign against Iraq. The highest support for a military action to disarm Iraq was reported among university graduates and people between 25 and 34 years of age, support is also stronger among men than women.
Analysts say the results of the Senate elections are not very significant for either political or economic developments in the Czech Republic. Although the ruling coalition lost a majority in the Senate, the opposition will be able only to delay the adoption of new legislation but not prevent it, because the lower house can override a Senate veto if the coalition partners are able to reach agreements between themselves. The distribution of power in the Upper House will only be crucial for the election of the next president, after Vaclav Havels second, final term in office expires in January.
The United States Government confirmed that it would provide the Czech Republic with air defence support during the NATO summit to take place in Prague later this month. This assurance came amidst reports that the United States might not provide its combat aircraft for guarding the Czech air space because of unclear liability for potential accidents and damage. The Czech government is to meet over the weekend to approve a law which would define powers and responsibilities of both sides in the event of an emergency situation.
On Friday and Saturday, Czechs voted in the second round of elections to one third of the Senate and in the elections to local administration. In the Senate elections, fifty two hopefuls faced run offs in 26 districts after only one candidate, the controversial media tycoon Vladimir Zelezny, secured a seat in the Upper House in last weeks first round. The turnout this weekend was estimated at 70 percent in some regions, as compared to 24 percent on average a week ago. Although the Czech Senate has limited powers in the two- chamber parliament, it will play a key role in selecting a successor to President Vaclav Havel, whose term expires in January.
According to a recent survey conducted by the RCA Research agency, 70 percent of Czechs oppose the idea of a U.S.-led military campaign against Iraq. The highest support for a military action to disarm Iraq was reported among university graduates and people between 25 and 34 years of age, support also is stronger among men than women.
Czechs are voting in the second round of elections to one third of the Senate, in which seats are contested every two years. Fifty two hopefuls face run offs in 26 districts after only one candidate, the controversial media mogul Vladimir Zelezny, booked an outright victory in last week's first round. Turnout last weekend was poor at 24 % , but officials expect a higher turnout for the run off as municipal elections are also being held around the country this weekend, giving voters an added incentive to cast ballots. Although the Czech Senate has limited powers in the two-chamber parliament, it will play a key role in selecting a successor to President Vaclav Havel, whose final term ends in January.
The Czech government will meet over the weekend to approve a law which would enable the US Air Force to help protect Czech airspace during the November NATO summit in Prague. According to the Czech Foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda the proposed bill should clearly state who will be in command in the event of a crisis. Czech officials want the ultimate responsibility to rest with the Czech Defense Minister Jaroslav Tvrdik. At a press conference in Prague on Friday Minister Svoboda rejected rumors that the US Air Force was threatening to pull out of the operation because of conflict over command.
The authorities in Prague announced on Thursday that the state of emergency put in place during the summer's severe floods had been lifted, although the clean-up operation continues. A city spokesman said public services in the capital will not return to normal until at least next spring, while the city is still struggling to raise funds to cover clean-up and repair costs totalling about 1 billion dollars. The state of emergency began in August when the Vltava River burst its banks and forced 50,000 people to evacuate low-lying areas. Some people are still waiting to be allowed home.
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