Czechs have started voting in elections to the European Parliament with 841 candidates from 40 parties running for the country’s 21 seats in the assembly. Although the Czech Republic is the only country where voting is possible over the course of two days, voter turnout is traditionally expected to lag behind the EU average.
A record 40 parties and movements have fielded candidates in the Czech Republic’s fourth elections to the European assembly, which translates into roughly 40 contenders for one mandate. Although the number of people running in this year’s European elections is slightly lower than in 2014, the number of non-affiliated candidates has slightly increased.
Besides the traditional parties and movements who are each defending a number of seats in the European Parliament, and those who have repeatedly failed in the past, there are also several newcomers for whom the 2019 European elections are a premiere.
Among the Czech parties and movements with representation in the European parliament is the ruling ANO party, which has two MEPs in the parliamentary group the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe.
ANO advocates greater powers for individual member states and its campaign focuses on immigration policy and the need to step up the EU’s security.
The alliance of TOP09 and Mayors and Independents, members of the largest group in the EU parliament, the European People’s Party, has four MEPs in Strasbourg. The key issues of their campaign include environmental and regional development as well as a common migration policy within the EU.
The Social Democratic Party, which currently has four MEPS under the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats, focuses on affordable housing and protection of food quality. Also defending seats in the European parliament will be the Christian Democrats and the Communists, who each have three MEPs in the assembly.
Among those who will be again trying to break into the European Parliament are the Pirates, whose campaign focuses on environmental protection, renewable energy and greater equality among EU member states.
Voter turnout in the Czech Republic traditionally lags behind the EU average. The voter turnout at the last election in 2014 was just over 18 percent.
Just like the Irish, Maltese and Slovaks, Czechs are not allowed to cast their ballot in the European Union elections via correspondence vote or at the Czech Republic’s embassies abroad.
Czechs who decide to cast their ballot in one of the nearly 14,800 polling stations around the country can choose to give a preferential vote to two candidates or chose to support one party or grouping as a whole.
Although polling stations are due to close at 2 pm on Saturday, the results will be not made public until polls close in the last EU member state (Italy), i.e., close to midnight on Sunday.
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