Czech Republic: Winners of Chomutov local elections go to court over vote-buying
The Czech town of Chomutov will be governed until the next elections by a coalition of the ANO 2011 movement, the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia (KSČM) and the FOR Chomutov (PRO Chomutov) movement; representatives of those parties reached the agreement late last night. Together the three parties won 22 seats on the 35-member council.
Daniel Černý, the leader of the winning FOR Chomutov movement, will become mayor. Marek Hrabáč, leader of the local cell of the ANO 2011 movement, informed the Czech News Agency of the decision today.
ANO 2011 and FOR Chomutov intend to challenge the voting results from some precincts in court on suspicion that the votes of socially vulnerable citizens were bought by their competitors. "We have evidence that this actually happened. This cannot be allowed, that's why we must draw attention to it," Hrabáč told the Czech News Agency.
Hrabáč did not want to name which party or parties were allegedly involved in bribingvoters. On Friday the FOR Chomutov movement and the "We Don't Want to Live in Palermo" initiative filed a criminal report over obstruction of the election.
Suspicions of vote-buying initially fell on the KSČM and on the FOR Chomutov movement itself, whch ran candidate David Ištok, who did not succeed in being elected. Allegedly Romani voters had been bribed to cast their votes for him.
"[Casting suspicion on FOR Chomutov] was part of the tactics of the organizers of this dishonorable act," Mayor-elect Černý said earlier. The 10-day window for challenging the results of the vote in court begins tomorrow.
"Together with my colleagues from the FOR Chomutov movement and the We Don't Want to Live in Palermo initiative we have monitored obvious vote-buying in front of the ROXY discotheque at the Písečná housing estate. We have collected evidence and testimonies that we have handed over to the Police of the Czech Republic, and we are also preparing a legal complaint about the course of the elections. It's true that the organizers insisted these 'bribed' people vote either for the KSČM or FOR Chomutov, specifically, for me. I am a party to the criminal report on election obstruction and I have provided the police with everything I know about the vote-buying," Ištok told news server Romea.cz
"We have reasonable suspicions that in some districts a particular party gained votes through vote-buying," Černý told the daily Chomutovský deník. He did not want to specify which party that was, but more than one indication leads to the conclusion that it is the Czech Social Democratic Party (ČSSD).
"If someone wants to file a motion over voting irregularity he should go right ahead," Jan Mareš, leader of the Social Democrats in Chomutov, told the daily. "I am not aware of our party having done anything like that. It will be good if everything can be evaluated by the relevant authorities, including the court, and if the truth can be proven. There is nothing else to say at this moment."
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