Czechs to go to polls in general elections on last weekend of May

General elections will be held in the Czech Republic on the last weekend of May, the country’s president, Václav Klaus, announced on Friday. The dates are the latest possible on which the elections could have been held. While Mr Klaus had previously hinted at those dates, their confirmation will help party bosses plan their campaigns.

After the right-of-centre government headed by Mirek Topolánek’s Civic Democrats fell last March, snap elections were due to be held in the Czech Republic in October.

Václav Klaus,  photo: CTK
However, a successful legal challenge against the last election term being cut short meant that the interim government of Jan Fischer has been forced to remain in place until late spring this year, when the election term was originally due to end.

But the actual dates of the polls were not known until Friday morning, when President Václav Klaus appeared before the media.

“After detailed consideration of all aspects, and after consultations with political representatives, I have decided to call elections to the Chamber of Deputies on May 28 and May 29, 2010. The election announcement has been countersigned by Prime Minister Jan Fischer, meaning it is now a definitive constitutional act.”

President Klaus also explained why he had selected the last weekend in May.

“I chose the latest possible dates before the end of the election period of the current Chamber of Deputies. The first reason was to preempt speculation that different dates would have been either advantageous or disadvantageous to political parties. Secondly, I didn’t want to cut short deputies’ election terms.”

Mr Klaus resisted pressure from the two biggest parties the Social Democrats and the Civic Democrats, who would have preferred polls two weeks earlier, in the middle of the month. They say that would have given the next cabinet more time to prepare the 2011 budget.