Parties put their money on big names ahead of Senate elections

14-08-2006

Although talks on forming a new government are in the forefront of public attention political parties are gearing up for elections to the Senate - a third of its seats are being contested in October. A complete list of candidates is now available and one thing is clear - parties have put their money on celebrities and charismatic figures, including a fair number of singers, actors and sports people. But will there be any real politics behind the famous faces? A question there for political analyst Petr Just:

Petr JustPetr Just "Elections to the Senate are more focused on personalities because of the electoral system used. This electoral system is based on strong personalities, well-known personalities - as opposed to the system used in elections to the lower house where you have a list of candidates and it is very important to have a strong charismatic leader but it is not essential to have charismatic figures lower down on the list. However in the senate elections every candidate stands for himself or herself and it is very important to be charismatic, a strong personality and to attract as many voters as possible."

Having said that are there any real issues behind the famous faces? We know that the Greens and the Christian Democrats aim to prevent the two strongest parties from gaining a constitutional majority in the upper chamber, the possibility of having a US missile base stationed in the Czech Republic may also be a hot issue - will there be others?

"Actually preventing the two strongest parties from gaining a constitutional majority in the upper house is very important especially at this point in time when we see that there is a real chance that the two strongest parties will form some kind of partnership. Under the circumstances it is quite natural that the smaller parties are trying to defend their position at least in the senate elections where they have a greater chance of succeeding, as we know from previous elections. As concerns other topics, well I think that constitutional changes will be the major focus of interest. It could be that the two strongest parties may try to change the constitution in other ways - the manner of electing the president, the powers of the senate and so on."

So a lot depends on the outcome of these elections?

"Yes, especially as concerns possible changes to the Constitution."

14-08-2006

Choose Karel Gott´s greatest hit (More)