The European Elections Monitor

Open panel Open panel
The European Elections Monitor
Czech Republic - Senatorial Elections

Senatorial Election in the Czech Republic, 17th-18th and 24th-25th October 2008

Senatorial Election in the Czech Republic, 17th-18th and 24th-25th October 2008

12/11/2008 - Results

Some of the Czech population was called to ballot to renew 27 of the 80 seats in the Senate on 17th-18th and 24th-25th October 2008. 200 people were running ie a rise of 36% in comparison with the previous election on 20th -21st and 27th-28th October 2006.

The main opposition party, the Social Democratic Party (CSSD) won the election taking 24 seats, including one in the first round. This is the first victory on the part of the Social Democratic Party in the Senatorial Election since the creation of the Czech Republic (1993). The Civic Democratic Party (ODS) led by Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek, in office since 2006, lost 6 seats but retained three in Prague, the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia (KSCM) won one Senator's seat in Znojmo (Southern Moravia).
The rightwing forces which controlled 41 of the 80 seats in the Senate have therefore lost this majority but still have control of the Upper Chamber thanks to their coalition partners, the Christian Democratic Union-People's Party (KDU-CSL) led by Jiri Cunek and the Greens (SZ) led by Martin Bursik.
Turn out rose to (40%) and was high for this type of election in the Czech Republic.

The Social Democratic Party (CSSD) focused its campaign on the severe reforms implemented by the government led by Mirek Topolanek (ODS); they were especially critical of the medical fees patients now have to pay on each doctor's appointment, for each prescription and for each day spent in hospital. After the election the CSSD asked for early general elections and for the formation of a national union government in view of the Czech Presidency of the EU (1st January-30th June 2009), a proposal that was rejected by Mirek Topolanek: "the result of the general elections of 2nd and 3rd June 2006 which was decisive for the existence of the government in line with the Constitution is still valid."

"These elections were a kind of referendum on Mirek Topolanek. The electorate showed that it wanted a change in political style with less arrogance," declared the President of the Republic on TV between rounds. The head of State, Vaclav Klaus, appeared twice in public to support the Civic Democratic Party (ODS), of which he is the honorary Chairman although he had promised to remain neutral. "I think that these speeches go beyond the role he has to play in political life," criticised the Prime Minister. Tension between Mirek Topolanek and Vaclav Klaus goes back a long way and everyone is aware of it. "I think that the results mean that I shall have to think about running as chief candidate for the Civic Democratic Party during the party congress in December. I have to be self critical and undertake a reshuffle within the government in the wake of these elections," added Mirek Topolanek.

The change in the Senate's composition is of special importance with regard to two major issues: the American anti-missile shield that the USA wants to install in the Czech Republic and to which the Social Democratic Party is opposed and the Lisbon Treaty which Prague has been refusing to sign since the "No" in Ireland on 12th June 2008. After these senatorial elections there is no longer a majority in the Upper Chamber which is likely to prevent the approval of the treaty. Likewise it should be more difficult for the Senators to approve the anti-missile shield project on Czech soil.
On 17th and 18th October 2008 the Czechs also renewed their regional parliaments in 13 areas (Prague did not vote in this election). The Social Democratic Party won easily snatching 35.86% of the vote and taking all of the 13 regions. The Civic Democratic Party won 23.57% of the vote, the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia, 15%, the Christian Democratic Union-People's Party, 7% and the Greens, 3%.
Publishing Director: Pascale JOANNIN
The authors
Corinne Deloy
Author of the European Elections Monitor (EEM) for the Robert Schuman Foundation and project manager at the Institute for Political Studies (Sciences Po).
Fondation Robert Schuman
Other stages