Political analyst on election results

The weekend elections clearly revealed a new trend among Czech voters - a turn away from political parties and a new confidence in non-affiliated candidates. Independent voters have suddenly become a force to be reckoned with, both in the Senate and in local government. In the process of decision making, it will be the independents who will be in a position to tip the scales. This has made the Czech political scene slightly less transparent and political analysts say that while they understand the public's dissatisfaction with party politics the preference for non-affiliated candidates also has its drawbacks. Vladimira Dvorakova is a political analyst at the Prague School of Economics.

"You know, the people expect independent candidates to behave really independently but this is not quite true because some of the independent candidates have strong connections with political parties so they are not as independent as they might seem. Another thing is that independent candidates do not have a support network of experts as do political parties who would help them come to a decision on individual laws, and it is sometimes very difficult to arrive at a compromise if you have a parliament that is very fragmented on an issue. And finally, what I see as quite dangerous is that independent candidates are more able to be in contact with various lobby groups that can influence their decisions."

The governing coalition has lost seats in these elections but it seems to be very confident that the independents will support it. Is this belief justified?

"I think that the independents will cooperate mainly with the Freedom Union. Possibly, this may increase tension within the coalition because the currently weak position of the Freedom Union is likely to be strengthened as a result of its influence in this quarter."

Vaclav Klaus,  photo: CTK
Political commentators say there are two winners in these elections : the Civic Democrats who did very well and the independent candidates. How will this new division of power in the Senate influence the election of the president?

"I think that all our party affiliated politicians are now trying to gauge what the independents are for, which candidate they would be willing to support. So at present it is hard to say who is most likely to get elected. But given the new division of power in the Senate I 'd say that it is unlikely that the candidates of the two strongest political parties would get this post - that means either Mr. Klaus or Mr. Zeman, but rather someone who is more acceptable for the broad public. It could be the current Ombudsman, Mr. Motejl who is has strong public support or possibly Mr. Pithart, the present chairman of the Senate who is a man of compromise and as such is acceptable for both the independent candidates and for some political parties."

There was a fairly low turnout in the Senate elections - does that reflect a general lack of trust in this institution ?

"Yes, I am sure of that. There is no clear understanding regarding the role of the Senate and why we should have one. And the upcoming presidential election may also be a reason why people voted for independent candidates. In this way people suppose that it will be less the decision of political parties - and more a reflection of the will of the public in this matter. In general, there is a low level of trust in the Senate.