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Czech court says elections in Krupka must be repeated

Ústí nad Labem, 8.6.2011 19:25, (ROMEA)

The Regional Court in Ústí nad Labem has annulled the results of the repeated May municipal elections in Krupka. The vote will have to be retaken. Votes were bought, as is proven by a large number of ballots which were identically completed. The court rejected the political parties' motion to annul the entire election. The same candidate lists will therefore be presented as in May.

Judge Markéta Lehká explained the verdict today, saying judges had reviewed all of the ballots and determined that a large number of them had been completed identically. She said that while the results did not change the existing distribution of seats among the parties, when the judges recounted the votes they determined that the results would influence which specific candidates would be seated on the town council. However, the court found no legal reason to annul the entire election, which would mean new candidate lists would have to be compiled.

The judges rejected proposals to abolish the validity of the mandates of the two parties suspected of vote-buying. They also rejected objections that the media had influenced the course of the elections. The court reviewed complaints that envelopes containing ballots had been distributed in such as way as to have been merely stacked near mailboxes, not delivered individually. The judges said no one had violated the law in this instance because the law merely states that ballots should be distributed, not that they must be placed into mailboxes.

Miroslava Bačová, of the "Healthy Krupka" (Zdravá Krupka) movement, which also complained about the election results, told journalists after today's hearing that the court's verdict is only a partial success. In her view it would have been much better if the elections were to have been repeated in their entirety, because otherwise the same parties who attempted to buy the votes previously will be running again with the same candidates. Bačová said they might attempt to buy votes again.

According to another plaintiff, Pavel Maleček, certain politicians will benefit in they remain in office in Krupka. A new territorial plan is to be decided, including the possible expansion of the local industrial zone. The town is also said to make around CZK 50 million worth of investments annually.

The May elections were won by the ČSNS 2005 and Šance pro město ("Chance for the Town") group of current Vice-Mayor Zdeněk Matouš with 20.83 % of the vote. His group was suspected of vote-buying in the initial election last fall, but Matouš rejects all such speculations. A total of 35.02 % of eligible voters turned out for the May vote.

ČTK, Gwendolyn Albert, Czech Press Agency, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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