ANO, the Social Democrats and the Three-Party Coalition (The Greens, Christian Democrats, STAN) have agreed on key issues in negotiations on a possible coalition at Prague City Hall. Among ideas agreed, the Czech News Agency reported, is the construction of a new “D” metro line, the lowering the of price of yearly transit passes by 900 crowns, zero tolerance of gambling, and the stricter protection of non-developed areas in the city. ANO finished first in Prague in the recent local elections, followed by TOP 09, and the Three Party Coalition. Others with representatives elected are the Social Democrats, the Civic Democrats, the Communists, and the Czech Pirate Party.
Jiří Pařízek, until now the city councillor for transport, has been named interim chairman of the Prague branch of TOP 09 by the party’s regional executive committee. He will stay on until the end of November, when the vote on a new city council and the opposition will be held. He replaces Jiří Vávra, who left the party last week along with Prague Mayor Tomáš Hudeček. The two left the party over continued infighting which critics charged had hurt TOP 09’s chances in Prague: TOP 09 came second to ANO in the recent local elections.
Czech President Miloš Zeman rated the Czech government favorably in an interview on Sunday, telling commercial broadcaster TV Nova that Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka had been successful in keeping the coalition together, which he saw as crucial. He also said the current government had given people 'hope'. At the same time, the president stated he could envisage ANO leader and finance minister Andrej Babiš as prime minister as well. Commenting on the sharp words traded at times by Mr Babiš and Mr Sobotka, the president made clear occasional clashes in any coalition were common.
A blackout hit parts of the Czech capital a minute after midnight on Monday, affecting some 100,000 homes. Affected were Prague 4 and parts of Prague 2 and 10. The blackout, caused by a technical failure at a substation in Chodov, also left the Thomayer Hospital in Krč briefly without power. In all, the blackout affected about a quarter of the city, the Czech News Agency reported.
Police pyrotechnics experts have gotten within 300 metres of the epicenter of a blast which destroyed a munitions depot, using a remote control drone and heavy equipment. For the second day they are investigating the site in the village of Vrbětice in South Moravia. Equipment they are using includes an armored vehicle and a special firefighters' 'tank'. Two people have been missing since the blast on Thursday and are feared dead.
Czech President Miloš Zeman maintains that candidates' personalities rather than political affiliation played a deciding role in the second round of the Senate elections. He expressed the view on Sunday through his spokesman Jiří Ovčáček. The head-of-state also suggested that a lower voter turnout in the Senate elections was par for course, saying that voters lost interest if their candidate failed to make it to the second round.
The head of TOP 09, Karel Schwarzenberg, has reflected on his party's failure to win a single seat in the Senate elections. He promised that the party would begin internal reforms at once, but also made clear the current leadership would remain until a leadership conference was held next year. There is speculation that Mr Schwarzenberg, who is 76, is planning on stepping down. Last week, members of TOP 09's Prague branch quit the party following a long period of infighting. The party lost in Prague, coming second in the communal elections.
Analysts also see the Senate results as strong confirmation that the Christian Democrats have returned as a significant political force. On Saturday, they clinched four seats; in addition, three Christian Democrat/Green candidates also won. Political analyst Jiří Pehe told Rádio Impuls the party was well-positioned and could become the main force on the political right; he suggested the party had done well because its priorities and values were well-understood by voters. The other parties on the right side of the spectrum, the Civic Democrats and TOP 09, have lost support since the collapse of the centre-right government of Petr Něcas.
Political analysts are characterizing the elections to the Czech Senate as mainly a win for the country's ruling coalition. Experts contacted by the Czech News Agency suggested in the past Senate elections had often seen protest votes, which they said had not been the case this time around. The ruling centre-left coalition of the Social Democrats, ANO and the Christian Democrats won enough seats to secure a comfortable majority in the upper chamber of Parliament. The STEM polling agency's Jan Hartl called the results a 'positive signal' for the government. At the same time, the election saw a record-low turnout by voters, leading some to again question the necessity of the upper house. The big loser in the Senate election, political analysts suggest, is the right-of-centre party TOP 09, which failed to win a single seat in four races in the second round.