Civic Democrats win most seats in regional assemblies, government Social Democrats come third
The weekend's elections to regional assemblies, the second since sweeping local government reforms were introduced four years ago, resulted in an overwhelming victory of the right-of-centre opposition Civic Democrats, the party founded by the current President Vaclav Klaus. They won in 12 out of 13 assemblies, across the country. The ruling Social Democrats came a humiliating third, lagging behind the largely unreconstructed Communists, who are celebrating their success. Pavla Horakova spoke to political scientist Vladimira Dvorakova and asked her whether the elections, marked by only a 30-percent turnout, should be viewed more as a victory for the Civic Democrats or as a failure for the ruling Social Democrats.
This has been the second election failure for the Social Democrats this year, after the European Parliament elections: is there a message voters are sending to the governing party?
After the poor showing in the European Parliament elections, the head of the party Vladimir Spidla stepped down. Is it now time for the acting party chairman and Prime Minister Stanislav Gross to step down, too, or perhaps is the cause of the election failures somewhere else and not in the person of the chairman?
The Civic Democrats have now clearly won the regional elections for the second time but in parliament they have been in opposition since 1998. Why do you think there is such a difference between voter behaviour in general and regional elections?
"Well, I think the first difference is the turnout. The turnout is different in parliamentary and in regional elections. There are twice as many voters, traditionally, in the parliamentary elections, so there is not such a strong possibility for the Civic Democrats to win with such a strong result. Although it's very probable now that the Civic Democrats will be the victor in the next elections, in 2006. But we shall see, everything can happen."