Record number of candidates taking part in elections

Photo: CTK

Czechs will go to the polls on Friday to vote in local elections and elect representatives to a third of the Senate. This year’s elections have brought a record number of candidates and a record number of women running for seats in local councils.

Photo: CTK
A record 165 parties and movements are taking part in this year’s elections, fielding more than 230,000 candidates for 60,000 seats in local councils, which is a rise by one third compared to the previous elections in 2010. A record number of women, a little over thirty percent, are in the running for local council seats this year.

However, while the number of women candidates has doubled in the past twenty years, they still make up only a third of the overall number of candidates. The Senate is expected to stay largely male-dominated. Out of the 244 candidates fielded for the 27 senate seats, only 37 are women. For the first time this year, the municipal elections are open to all EU citizens residing in the country, be they permanent or temporary residents. The decision to include temporary residents came only last month after a Brno court upheld a Slovak man’s demand to register for the elections.

Prague will also see a record number of parties fighting for the seats in the city council. There are altogether 31 parties and movements, fielding 1800 candidates, a number many times exceeding the amount of vacant posts. Nineteen party leaders are contesting the post of Prague mayor.

The election campaign this year was definitely more visible than in previous years, largely due to the record number of parties participating. Many parties also went for a contact campaign, sending their candidates out into the streets to meet with the people and hand out leaflets and freebies.

Photo: Filip Jandourek
Local elections traditionally have the highest voter turnout. Nearly fifty percent of voters came to the polls in 2010 and the same number is expected this year. Elections to the Senate are far less popular, with only 25 percent of the voters showing up for the second round in the previous elections.

Polling stations around the country will be open from 2 pm until 10 pm on Friday and from 8am until 2pm on Saturday. Preliminary results are expected over the weekend with official results due on Monday. The second round of elections to the Senate will take place on October 17 and 18.