With over 99 percent of vote counted, Civic Democrats appear to have won Czech general election
With over 99 percent of the vote counted, the right-of-centre opposition Civic Democrats appear to have won this year's general election with 35.3 percent of the vote, three percent ahead of the ruling Social Democrats with 32.3 percent. The three other parties that have crossed the 5-percent threshold needed to enter parliament are the Communists with just under 13 percent, the Christian Democrats with over 7 percent and the Green Party with over 6 percent.
Voter turnout has been calculated at just under 65 percent, some 6 percent more than in the previous general election four years ago.
Party leaders cautious in comments
As the running results were coming in on Saturday afternoon, party leaders remained cautious in their comments saying they would wait for the final results. Both the chairman of the Civic Democrats, Mirek Topolanek, and Social Democrat leader and Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek have thanked Czech voters for the high turnout. Representatives of the Communist Party have said they are disappointed by their party's showing as they believed the final result would be higher than the exit polls suggested. Christian Democrat leaders said they would like to be part of a stable coalition and said several options were possible. The Greens have called this election a historic moment for their party.
Low turnout again among Czechs living abroad
For the second time, Czechs living abroad were able to take part in the elections. Voting took place at 108 Czech embassies and consulates, but only a fraction of those eligible to vote turned up. The number of people who had registered to vote abroad this year was only slightly higher than in the previous election four years ago. Between 70,000 and 300,000 Czechs eligible to vote are estimated to live abroad but only around 5,000 of those had registered. Turnout figures will be released later.
Two suffer heart attacks at polls
A 78-year-old voter suffered a fatal heart attack at a polling station in a district of Prague on Friday. Despite a doctor being on hand it proved impossible to save the woman's life. Another man also suffered a heart attack at a polling station in the Moravian region of Sumperk and could not be saved although he was attended to immediately on site.
Boy dies in sporting accident
A fourteen-year old boy died on Friday in the town of Pilsen when a handball net fell on him. Police are investigating the details of the accident. It is the second such accident in just two months. A fourteen year old boy died in May in South Moravia after he was gravely injured by a falling football net.
The rest of the weekend is expected to be partly cloudy with rain in places and temperatures hovering around 18 degrees Celsius.