The senior coalition party, the Civic Democrats, suffered a major defeat
in weekend’s local elections. The party lost most cities, including
Ostrava, Liberec and the capital Prague. There, another collation party,
the conservative TOP 09 won with over 31 percent of the vote, followed by
the Civic Democrats with 23 percent, and the Social Democrats with just
below 18 percent of the vote. The Civic Democrats lost in the capital for
the first time since the fall of communism. Another coalition party,
Affairs, also suffered a defeat, only gaining several hundred municipal
Overall, various local groups of independent candidates won the highest number of council positions. The turnout in the municipal elections was over 48 percent, slightly higher than in the previous vote four years ago.
In the first round of voting for the Czech Senate, 22 candidates of the opposition Social Democrats have advanced to the second round, along with 19 Civic Democrat candidates and five candidates running on the TOP 09 party ticket. Three Christian Democrat candidates also made it to the second round. No candidate gained over 50 percent of vote to be elected in the first round in which around 45 percent of voters took part, the highest ever turnout in Senate elections. A second round of voting in the Senate elections will take place next weekend.
Leaders of the Civic and Social Democrats have called on their supporters to come out and vote in the second round of the Senate elections. The head of the Civic Democrats, Prime Minister Petr Nečas, said that in order for the reforms to continue, the Senate should remain in the hands of the right-of-centre coalition; for his part, Social Democrat party leader Bohuslav Sobotka said the second round is an opportunity to gain a left-wing majority in the Senate which would force the government to negotiate its planned reforms with the opposition. Should the Social Democrats win 12 or more seats in the upper house, they could delay the implementation of the government’s austerity measures. However, the coalition has enough votes in the lower house to overturn any veto coming from the Senate.
The head of the Green Party, Ondřej Liška, said on Saturday his party
would challenge local elections results in Prague over what they consider
and unfair division of the city into electoral districts. Mr Liška said
the city’s division substantially damaged the Greens who ran in a
coalition with smaller parties and gained 5.9 percent of the vote but no
seats on city council. The Communist and the Public Affairs parties are
considering joining in the complaint.
In August, Prague City Hall, controlled by the Civic Democrats, split the capital into seven electoral districts. Several parties earlier contested the move at the Supreme Administrative Court which rejected the complaint. Mr Liška however believes the Greens can now prove the division was unfair, as votes in different districts have different weight.
In other news: no one has responded to the offer of 3.5 million crowns, or nearly 200,000 US dollars, made by the father of a nine-year-old girl who went missing in Prague on Wednesday. The father offered the money as ransom to potential kidnappers although it’s not clear whether the girl had in fact been kidnapped. The police continue searching for the girl who was last seen in the Prague district of Troja on Wednesday; her bag was later found en route from school to her home. The police have notified the Interpol and stepped up checks at Czech airports. Many volunteers have also joined in the search for the missing girl.
Former deputy prime minister Jiří Čunek told the news website tyden.cz on Sunday that Romanies genetically lacked discipline. The Christian Democrat politician, who was elected to the municipal council in Vsetín, northern Moravia, in the local elections, was asked whether he thought any Roma voted for him. Mr Čunek said that they said they did but that they rarely vote because of their genetically-inflicted lack of discipline. In his career, Mr Čunek came under fire several times over his comments on the Romany community.
The documentary “Eye above Prague”, by the Czech filmmaker Olga Špátová, won an award for the best documentary at the 26th Warsaw International Film Festival on Saturday. The documentary depicts the last two years in the life of the Czech-born architect Jan Kaplický, who passed away in January 2009, and whose project of a new National Library building for Prague was scrapped. The festival jury said the film captured the emotional state of a man who outran his times.
The number of newspapers and magazines that come out in the Czech Republic dropped by more than 200 last year to nearly 5,700, according to official figures released on Sunday. By the end of last year, there were some 3,800 magazines, 152 less than the year before. Some 123 dailies came out in December 2009, three less than in 2008. One of the magazines that went under was also the English-language Czech Business Weekly.
The reigning cyclo-cross World Cup champion, Radek Štybar, clinched victory in the first event of the season, held in Aigle, Switzerland, on Sunday. The 24-year-old Czech was riding in a leading group of eight until halfway through the race when he powered away and finished first. Štybar, who has dominated the season, said he was yet going to get to top form.
In football, Gambrinus liga leaders Plzeň beat Brno 4:1 on Sunday, and secured their position at the top of the chart, 12 points ahead of title holders Sparta Prague. In Friday’s game, Sparta lost to third Teplice 0:2 at home; on Wednesday, Sparta will face Lausanne in another game of Europa League’s Group F. In other games of the top Czech division, Mladá Boleslav tied 0:0 with Hradec Králové and remain fourth; Prague-based Bohemians 1905 beat Liberec 3:1 on Saturday, and moved up to ninth place of the leach chart.