07/11/2004 - Results - 2nd round
As expected the second round of the senatorial elections on 12 and 13 November in the Czech Republic confirmed the first round results; the Civic Democrat Party (ODS) easily came out ahead of all of the other parties winning 17 seats, that is 18 in all, since the Mayor of Pilsen, Jiri Sneberger was elected on 6 November in a landslide victory over Healthcare Minister, Milada Emmerova (CSSD).
The Conservative party now has 36 of the 81 senators' seats in Parliament, ie nine more than during the last term of office.
Once again the Social Democrat Party (CSSD) suffered a serious setback, failing to take a single seat and losing eight. The ruling party now has seven seats in Senate.
The Christian Democrat Union (KDU-CSL) won three seats but lost four and will now have 13 senators.
The Liberty Union (US-DEU) and the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia (KSCM) each won a seat and have, respectively, two and eight senators.
We should remember that a minimum of five members are necessary to create a political group in the Senate. The four other representatives elected in the second round are from the European Democrats (ED), the Greens, the Association of Independents,(SNK), and the movement of Independents. The Association of Independents (SNK) has three representatives in Senate and the Movement of Independents has two.
The candidate with the highest number of votes in the second round was Premsyi Sobotka (ODS), winning over Josef Vondruska (KSCM). However in Usti nad Orlici (Eastern Bohemia), Ludmila Müllerova (KDU-CSL) beat Jiri Cepelka (ODS) by only fifty-nine votes. To date thirteen political parties are represented in the Upper Chamber that also includes twenty-four women, i.e. two more than during the last term of office.
The participation rate, that was the weakest ever recorded in the country, rose to 18.41% only.
"It is a great success", declared Mirek Topolanek, president of the Civic Democrat Party, whose position was strengthened after the results of the senatorial and regional elections on 5 and 6 November last; he should easily be re-elected to his post in December. "The Czechs expressed their opinion during these senatorial elections. The present government has not chosen the right path", declared President of the Republic, Vaclav Klaus.
On Monday the Conservative movement called for early general elections. "The government coalition has lost its legitimacy", emphasised Pter Necas, vice-president of the ODS requesting all political parties to join together to demand early elections.
The Civic Democrat Party that does not have an absolute majority in the Senate might make an alliance with the Association or the Movement of Independents. According to the Czech Constitution the Senate has the power to reject the draft laws adopted by the Chamber of Representatives; the latter can however circumnavigate this rejection by voting again employing a simple majority. Nevertheless the good result achieved by the Civic Democrat Party should complicate the government's task obliging Social Democrat MP's to strict voting in order to avoid holding up the reforms that they want to see applied unnecessarily. Just as a reminder the Upper Chamber also plays a most important role in the appointment of the President of the Republic, who in the Czech Republic, is elected every five years by both Chambers of Parliament.
As in the first round Prime Minister Stanislav Gross justified the Social Democrat Party defeat by the high abstention rate. In an interview on the internet site iDnes, he also declared that his party was going to examine the usefulness of the second Chamber and the possibility of its abolition. "The Social Democrats might also do away with the European Parliament and while they are at it, why not the Regional Councils?" declared ODS Senator Tomas Julinek ironically in answer to the Prime Minster's statement. Milos Zeman, former Prime Minister (1988-2002) and former president of the Social Democrat Party questioned the hierarchy of the CSSD that he accused of being responsible for the defeat. "Stanislav Gross is certainly not the man who is able to lead the party to victory in the next general elections", he maintained. During its next congress in March 2005 the Social Democrat Party will choose the person to lead the party in the general elections that will take place in June 2006. The Prime Minister therefore has a few additional months to confirm his power within the CSSD.
"I can hardly speak of success", declared Miroslav Grebenicek, leader of the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia, on the announcement of the results, pointing out that his party was the first on the left of the political scale. However and in spite of his popularity within a major section of the population (around a fifth of the electorate), the Communist Party, whose nine candidates stood during the second round, is still marginalised to a great extent. The Social Democrat Party, although it does not officially support the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia, had indicated that all other candidates were preferable during the second round of the senatorial elections to a member of the Civic Democrat Party. An opinion poll undertaken by Median and published on 11 November last in the daily Mlada fronta Dnes, revealed that one Czech in five wanted the return of the pre-1989 Communist regime; 20% of those interviewed answered in the affirmative to the question "Do you want to return to the situation of pre-November 1989?" This proportion lies at 3% amongst the under thirties and at 7% amongst the 30-39 year olds but reaches 31% amongst the fifty year olds and a majority, 56% amongst the over 60's. A petition entitled "We don't speak to Communists", launched in June 2003 by the organisation "Autumn without Communists" has to date collated 20,000 signatures. On 17 November this movement organised, along with others, an anniversary celebration of the start of the velvet revolution that ended the country's Communist regime - this was a major rally to say "NO" to the return of former Communist party members to positions of power.
We should remember that in October the electorate in Znojmo (Southern Moravia) and the fourth borough of Prague voted to replace their senators who had become MP's in the Parliament in Strasbourg following the European Elections on 11 and 12 June. The Deputy Minister of Healthcare, Milan Spacek (KDU-CSL), was elected in Znojmo and Frantisek Prihoda (ODS) in Prague 4.