Social Democrats’ Hamáček elected speaker of lower house

Jan Hamáček, photo: CTK

MPs in the newly-elected Chamber of Deputies convened on Wednesday to choose by secret ballot, a new speaker as well as deputy speakers from seven candidates. Jan Hamáček of the Social Democrats was elected chairman by an overwhelming majority. But filling the posts of deputy speakers, by contrast, is likely to be less clear-cut.

Jan Hamáček,  photo: CTK
The election of a new leadership of the lower house was a first test for newly-elected MPs and above all three parties in the chamber negotiating on the government: the Social Democrats, ANO 2011 and the Christian Democrats. From the perspective of the future coalition, so far so good: Social Democrat Jan Hamáček, considered a shoe-in was elected easily: by 195 out of 198 MPs present in a secret ballot. The result drew applause from supporters within his party, while the head of the party’s deputy’s club, Roman Sklenák, said this:

“I think that the result – 195 out of 198 votes – proves that Mr Hamáček was a good choice, someone respected or accepted by many, and at the end of the day a former deputy speaker in the former chamber. I think his election to the post will guarantee a smooth running of the Chamber of Deputies.”

Jaroslava Jermanová,  photo: CTK
Support for Mr Hamáček even from those in the opposition, is also likely to have been at least partly tactical in nature for one simple reason: the election of additional key posts – four deputy speakers. Six parties – ANO 2011, the Christian Democrats, The Communist Party, the Civic Democrats, TOP 09 and Dawn, all put forward names, meaning two will be left out in the cold. The election of deputy leaders is not expected to go as smoothly.

Only two candidates – Jaroslava Jermanová of ANO and Pavel Bělobrádek – the head of the Christian Democrats – are likely to be elected in the first round, while the battle for the last two posts among three remaining parties, the Communists, TOP 09 and the Civic Democrats may be more difficult. Former finance minister Miroslav Kalousek, of TOP 09, summed up the situation ahead of the vote.

Miroslav Kalousek,  photo: CTK
“I am interested in the post primarily because it grants a preferential right to address the chamber. I get the feeling that my political foes want to curb that opportunity in my case, which says something about their low self-esteem. It is not anything I am losing sleep over – it’s not life and death.”

Voting on the four deputy chairpersons will begin later on Wednesday; if MPs fail to vote on all four, they will try and resolve the matter in two day’s time.