Over the weekend Czechs across that country went to the polls to elect members of the Senate and local administration. The governing coalition parties lost their majority in the Senate, while in the regions independent candidates swept the boards.
In senate elections the governing coalition lost ground - the Social Democrats, the Christian Democrats and the Freedom Union saw the end to their majority in the upper house. The opposition Civic Democrats increased their presence in the Senate by four seats to a total of 26 out of 81. Independents and smaller parties also increased their presence in the Senate.
Despite their gains, the Civic Democrats suffered some painful defeats, especially in Prague 1, their traditional stronghold, where independent candidate and 1989 student leader Martin Mejstrik won an unexpected victory. My colleague Pavla Horakova spoke with Mirek Topolanek who is leader of the Civic Democrats Senate group and asked him what this defeat meant to his party.
"Its not a disaster, its not as good as in other elections districts. I am not able to explain this fact but I think it has influenced the Senate election. Our candidate had a good chance in the second round and an unsuccessful election result in Prague 1 has influenced his result."
As expected, independent candidates were the most successful in local elections, winning over 50% of the seats on local administration bodies nation-wide. None of the major parties in the Czech Republic won more then 10% of the seats, with the most successful party being the Christian Democrats. That was despite the fact that the Civic Democrats actually received over a quarter of votes; this is because - unlike elections to the Senate - local elections are measured on the proportional system.
Regarding local elections the Civic Democrats did best in large towns and cities, including their traditional heartland Prague, where they received just over 35% of the votes. Former mayor Jan Kasl's new political party, the European Democrats, also had a strong showing, coming in second. Senator Topolanek sees his party's gains on the local level as very important:
"I think that this election is not only a success for the Senate club but it is also a big success for municipal elections and I think it is more important then the senate election."
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