The centre-right Civic Democratic Party has scored a resounding victory in both the local and Senate elections held over the weekend in the Czech Republic. In local elections the centre-right Civic Democrats led by Mirek Topolanek won the highest number of votes - 30, 5 percent - and the highest number of municipalities. In Prague the Civic Democrats can rule alone having gained over 53 percent of votes. Overall in the local elections, the Social Democrats came second with 17 percent of votes, the Communists third with 12 percent, followed by the Christian Democrats with 8 percent and the Greens who got 4,5 percent. The independents did exceptionally well gaining a record number of seats in local government. Voter turnout was 46 percent, which is much higher than expected.
The centre right Civic Democrats likewise dominated the first round of elections to a third of the Senate. The party has advanced to the second round in 26 of the 27 constituencies contested. If it manages to win 22 Senate seats in the second round of elections the party would have a constitutional majority in the upper chamber. Civic Democrat leader Mirek Topolanek has called on voters to go to the polls in the second round of elections to the Senate. No candidate managed to gain more than 50 percent of the votes and win a seat in the first round of the Senate elections.
Meanwhile, the possibility of the Civic Democrats gaining a constitutional majority in the Senate has shocked the centre-left Social Democrats. Party leader Jiri Paroubek has called for a coalition of all parties against the Civic Democrats in the second round of Senate elections in order to prevent what he termed "the onset of blue totalitarianism in the Czech Republic." The Christian Democrats and the Green Party have rejected the idea.
The local and Senate elections are widely seen as a referendum on the inconclusive June general elections which have prevented politicians from forming a stable government. President Klaus said the election results were an indication of the mood in Czech society and signaled a political solution to the country's drawn out crisis. Mr. Klaus, who has been holding talks with party leaders in order to ascertain their position on a future government set up, has made it clear that he would not name a new prime minister designate until after the second round of Senate elections next week.
The Speaker of the lower house Miloslav Vlcek said on Saturday the Social Democrats may file a complaint challenging the regularity of the elections because of the way the media reported on a corruption scandal surrounding people close to the Social Democrat leader Jiri Paroubek. Less than 48 hours before polling stations opened a former deputy minister for regional development who is charged with abusing EU structural funds told police investigators that the former Social Democrat prime minister Jiri Paroubek was involved in the fraudulent practices she was accused of. Mr. Vlcek said some journalists had reported on the case as if the Social Democrat leader were guilty. The Social Democrat leader Jiri Paroubek has said he is not in favor of filing a complaint.
Justice Minister Jiri Pospisil is considering pressing charges against Jana Hybaskova, head of the European Democrats, who recently accused him and two other Civic Democrat officials of corruption. Mrs. Hybaskova said last Tuesday that a representative of the governing party had asked her for a three million crown bribe in a certain financial transaction which was to be paid to Justice Minister Jiri Pospisil, Finance Minister Vlastimil Tlusty and another unnamed party deputy. Mr. Pospisil said the accusations were outrageous and unless Mrs. Hybaskova publicly apologized he would take her to court.
President Klaus told journalists that he had done his utmost to promote Prague as the seat of the Galileo European Navigation system at Friday's informal EU summit in Finland. I do not like lobbying but I feel I may have scored a point, Mr. Klaus told reporters on his return. The Galileo European Navigation System is a joint initiative of the European Commission and European Space Agency. It should be launched sometime in 2008 and eleven states have made a bid to host it.
The former president Vaclav Havel and his wife Dagmar will be spending the next four months in the United States where Mr. Havel is expected to give several lectures. The Havels will attend a theatre festival of Mr. Havel's work and divide their time between New York and Washington. Vaclav Havel recently turned seventy.
Tenth seed Gonzalez reached his first Masters Series final when he defeated the Czech numer one Tomas Berdych 6-3 6-1. Berdych folded under the pressure of a hostile home crowd, while Gonzalez gave him no respite as he pounded him with his pin-point serve and wrapped up victory in 52 minutes. "I've never seen anything like it, it's like a bad dream. It's not a tennis crowd," Berdych said later. Berdych beat defending champion and local hero Rafael Nadal in the quarters, provoking the anger of the world number two and local fans.
The next few days are expected to be partly cloudy to overcast with afternoon highs reaching 18 degrees Celsius.
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