Czechs vote in regional and Senate elections
Polling stations opened in parts of the Czech Republic of Friday for voting in the regional and Senate elections. Voting is taking place in 13 of 14 of the country’s regions (the sole exception being the Czech capital) and in a third of seats to the upper house of Parliament.
A whopping 270 parties and movements are registered in the regional elections while 233 candidates are seeking to fill 27 seats in the Senate. Of the candidates 19 senators are seeking re-election. The Social Democrats will also be seeking to retain a dominant voice in the Senate where they currently have 33 seats; in the past, Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka, the leader of the Social Democrats, said he would consider it a success if his party retained or still form the largest senators’ club and held on as senior partners in regional coalitions. Currently, the party has 11 governors out of the 13 regions being contested.
The ANO Party, a newcomer on the regional playing field as many have noted, stands only to gain. They do have four senators, currently. Other parties which would certainly like to improve their position, include the third party in the ruling coalition, the Christian Democrats, who currently have three senators and share power locally in two regions: Pardubice and South Moravia. The Communists four years ago gained the second-largest number of mandates as well as leadership of the coalition in Usti. Over four years, they have frequently held strong positions in local governments with the Social Democrats.
A big question, also ahead of next year’s national election, is whether once dominant right-wing parties such as the Civic Democrats and TOP 09 – in the opposition nationally – can rebound and make an impact again. Worth noting are a number of changes: Czechs living abroad can vote for candidates to the Senate but not at missions abroad but must travel to the Czech Republic and obtain voter ID from their embassy. Foreigners living in the Czech Republic who are registered to vote can also do so.
The first round of voting to the Senate takes place on Friday and Saturday October 7 and 8 with the second round next weekend on October 14 and 15. Voting to the regions takes place just on this Friday and Saturday. The polls on Friday close at 10 pm, open again on Saturday at 8 am and close at 2 pm.