Czechs vote in elections that could see new parties change political map
People around the Czech Republic have begun casting their ballots in the sixth election to the Chamber of Deputies since the foundation of the state. The results should be quite clear a few hours after polls close at 2 PM on Saturday. However, it could be days or even weeks before the shape of the next Czech government emerges.
Close to 15,000 polling stations opened their doors to voters at 2 PM on Friday. After a break between 10:00 at night and 8:00 in the morning, they will close at 2PM on Saturday, when counting gets underway.
Voting has also been taking place at Czech diplomatic missions around the world, with the polls due to close in Los Angeles, for instance, at 6 AM on Saturday, Central European Time.
Here in the Czech Republic, over eight million people have received their ballots. Under the country’s electoral system, voters can give four candidates preferential votes.
On the eve of the election, President Miloš Zeman had this message for the country’s electors:
Polls have suggested that up to three-quarters of those eligible to vote may do so. Turnout in 2010 was 62.6 percent.
Monday is a state holiday, meaning it will be a long weekend, while the forecast is for unseasonably warm weather. However, experts say those factors are unlikely to affect turnout.
While a reasonably accurate picture of how the parties have fared can be expected within a few hours of the polls closing on Saturday, it could be some time before a clearer picture of who will form the next cabinet emerges.
These groupings are hoping to make capital out of widespread voter dissatisfaction stemming from corruption scandals and austerity measures.
How they perform could well have a marked impact on the future government – and could even be part of a greater redrawing of the country’s political map.