Opposition Social Democrats score resounding victory in regional elections
The opposition Social Democrats dealt Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek’s centre-right government a severe blow in the weekend’s regional and Senate elections. The main opposition party won hands down in all 13 regions and secured a strong lead in the first round of the Senate elections, threatening to tip the balance of power in the upper chamber ahead of key votes on the Lisbon treaty, the US radar and social reform. With the government’s fragile majority in the lower house and a no-confidence vote in the cabinet due on Wednesday, there is speculation that the prime minister’s days in office could be numbered.
“We have suffered a defeat and it is now up to us to analyze the reasons why. We made mistakes and we underestimated the election campaign, but I would stress that no party in government has ever won the regional elections – it’s the price you pay for being at the helm. Politics is not just about victories – it is also about losses. And in this case we are the losers.”
“This election was a referendum on the Topolánek government and I cannot image how a government with 23 percent support can continue to rule the country and even take up the EU presidency next year. It is time to consider a change. This prime minister is an embarrassment to us, both here and in Brussels, and the Social Democrats will not tolerate the cabinet in its present set up.”
Meanwhile, the triumphant Social Democrats are already initiating coalition talks in the regions, demanding all 13 governor’s posts and saying they will work with anyone who helps them fulfil their policy priorities – not excepting the Communists, with whom they have a comfortable majority in all thirteen regions.