Poll: Most Czechs back change to single-day voting

06-01-2020

At present elections in the Czech Republic usually take place across two days. That looks likely to end, however, with the Ministry of the Interior readying legislation for one-day polling. A new survey suggests the majority of voters would welcome the change – though opinion is divided on what day of the week is best.

Photo: Ondřej TomšůPhoto: Ondřej Tomšů Czech voters normally go to the ballot boxes in parliamentary, presidential, regional and municipal elections from 2 pm to 10 pm on Fridays and from 8 am to 2 pm on Saturdays.

However, that system appears set to end. The Ministry of the Interior is currently working on draft legislation that would bring in one-day polling, which officials view as a simpler solution.

And a fresh opinion poll carried out for Czech Radio by the Median polling agency indicates there is public backing for that change.

Fifty-eight percent of respondents said they were in favour of single-day elections, while just over a third said they would prefer to maintain the status quo.

Ministry of the Interior spokesperson Petr Mlsna told Czech Radio that voters can look forward to more flexibility.

“The number of hours for voting is the same. But also the change is compensated for by the fact that electors can pick up their voting card anywhere on the territory of the Czech Republic. The amendment also allows for voting in advance at a municipal office and makes postal voting possible.”

The new opinion survey suggests that those in favour of single-day ballots are, however, divided over what particular day is best. Přemysl Čech is from the Median agency.

“Elections should take place on Saturday, according to 50 percent of respondents. They should be on Sunday, according to 7 percent of respondents. And 43 percent are in favour of a working day.”

The speaker of the lower house, Radek Vondráček of ANO, says the Czechs could take inspiration from a neighbour in this regard.

“I’m open to a debate on which day. I personally like Austria’s Sunday elections. If people have been away, they can get back in time.”

Photo: Ondřej TomšůPhoto: Ondřej Tomšů Communist Party chairman Vojtěch Filip warns that the change needs to be well thought through.

“In some professions there are 12-hour shifts. So it needs to be set up in such a way as not to prevent some people from going to the polls.”

The Median survey also asked voters whether they would like to return to the pre-2013 system under which Czech presidents were chosen by both houses of Parliament, not the electorate.

Almost three-quarters of respondents said they would prefer to keep the current system.

Supporters of government leaders ANO were particularly in favour of direct presidential elections, with 86 percent saying they should be preserved.

By contrast, nearly half of Civic Democrats voters said they would favour a return to the old system.

06-01-2020