Czech Republic heading for centre-right coalition government

Photo: CTK

With 99 percent of the vote counted in the country’s general elections it is increasingly clear that voters have turned away from the two big parties, the Civic and Social Democrats. Though slightly in the lead with 22.1 percent of the vote the Social Democrats are disappointed by the outcome, which makes it near impossible for them to form a centre-left coalition.

Even before the last votes were counted party leader Jiri Paroubek conceded defeat. “Voters favoured the smaller parties – a trend that is in contradiction to everything that pre- election polls indicated. It seems that voters have chosen the direction the country should take and it is a different direction than that proposed by the Social Democrats.”

Photo: CTK
The right of centre Civic Democrats – with 20.2 percent – have welcomed the chance to form a pro-reform centre right coalition, but they too have lost supporters to two newcomers to the scene – TOP09 and Public Affairs.

There is general agreement that the real winner of these elections are the two new parties - TOP09 with 16.7 percent of the vote and Public Affairs which won 10.9 percent. TOPO9 did exceptionally well on a policy programme emphasizing the need for extensive cost-cutting measures to reduce the country’s steep budget deficit. Political analyst Jiří Pehe said the party’s success reflected voter’s growing concern about the future.

Photo: CTK
“I have to say that TOP09 is the biggest mystery for me as a political analyst because quite frankly I would never have expected that in a country which has such strong egalitarian tendencies, with a strong emphasis on equality, we would see a party promoting blood, sweat and tears – to use Churchill’s line in World War – in this case cutting deficits, reforming state finances and reducing social welfare programmes – for such a party to get 17 percent of the popular vote. “

Although parties are refusing to speculate about possible coalition scenarios until all the votes have been counted, it is fairly clear that centre right parties are heading for a comfortable majority in the lower house. Even though they won the elections by two percentage points the Social Democrats would find it near impossible to form a viable coalition, which means that the right-wing Civic Democrats will most likely be tasked with forming a government.