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November 16, 2018
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Czech Senate elections won by the right-wing Civic Democrats

17.10.2018 8:42
Petr Fiala, chair of the Civic Democratic Party (ODS) in the Czech Republic, October 2018. (PHOTO:  Facebook ODS)
Petr Fiala, chair of the Civic Democratic Party (ODS) in the Czech Republic, October 2018. (PHOTO: Facebook ODS)

The victor of this year's elections to the Czech Senate is the Civic Democratic Party (ODS), 10 of whose 11 candidates have won their runoffs. The party will have the strongest club in the upper chamber, tying the STAN (Mayors and Independents) movement, which won six of its runoffs.

ODS and STAN now have 16 Senate seats each. The Christian Democrats (KDU-ČSL) lost one seat in the contest.

The Czech Social Democratic Party (ČSSD) won just one Senate seat of the 13 it defended and now has just 13 Senators. The governing ANO movement also gained just one Senate seat out of its 10 runoffs and will now have seven seats.

For the first time since 1996, the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia (KSČM) will not be represented in the Senate. Six clubs now control the legislature's upper chamber.

The smallest club remains the Liberal Democracy - Senator 21 group with five members. Voter turnout in the second round was roughly 16.5 %.

The distribution of forces in the upper chamber will now depend on which faction is joined by some of the successful independents or representatives of smaller parties. The new ODS Senators are: Mayor of Mikulov Rostislav Koštial, Vice-Mayor of Kdyně and Vice-Governor of the Plzeň Region Vladislav Vilímec, Mayor of Havlíčkův Brod Jan Tecl, incumbent Senator Jaroslav Zeman, Mayor of Litoměřice Ladislav Chlupáč, Mayor of Mladá Boleslav Raduan Nwelati, former Police President Martin Červíček, Mayor of Vejprnice Pavel Karpíšek, Vice-Governor of the Pardubice Region Michal Kortyš and Mayor of Teplice Jaroslav Kubera.

The ODS result was called the party's first victory in nine years by its head, Petr Fiala. In his view, voters have sent a clear signal that the ODS is an alternative to the extremists and populists in the governing ANO movement.

"This half-communist Government will not have a majority in the Senate," Fiala said. Czech Senator Miloš Vystrčil, who has been the head of the ODS club in the Senate to date, said that if the ODS faction becomes the strongest one, it might be able to nominate Senator Jaroslav Kubera, who has been vice-chair of the Senate until now, to the leading position there.

That same ambition is held by the movement of Mayors and Independents (STAN). The second-highest constitutional office should go to an experienced, hard-working person who will defend democratic values, Czech Senator Jan Horník, chair of STAN's club in the upper chamber, told the Czech News Agency.

Horník has not yet said whom STAN might put forward for that post. The only ODS Senate candidate who did not win his runoff was Jiří Kozák, a political scientist running in the Benešov area.

Kozák was defeated by the Vice-Mayor of Říčany u Prahy, Zdeněk Hraba (running for STAN). Mikuláš Bek, the Rector of Masaryk University in Brno, was successful on behalf of the STAN movement in his own Senate runoff, as was Miroslav Balatka, a former Regional Assembly member and professional land surveyor in Sokolov, and the Mayor of Koněšín, Hana Žáková.

Former presidential candidate Jiří Drahoš was elected to the Senate during the first round of voting. Two other former presidential candidates also made it into the upper chamber.

In Prague 12 the former diplomat and presidential candidate Pavel Fischer succeeded, running as an independent. In Prague 2, voters placed their trust in Marek Hilšer, who ran for his own movement called "Marek Hilšer to the Senate".

The Christian Democrats defended three of their Senate seats and gained just two more. During the first round of voting, perennial candidate Jiří Čunek won in Vsetín, while the Mayor of Uherský Brod, Patrik Kunčar, won his runoff in Zlín.

Three Christian Democratic candidates lost their Senate races. One of them was party chair Pavel Bělobrádek, who lost to Červíček in Náchod.

Bělobrádek has announced that he will not seek the nomination to lead the party at its March convention. However, he did not associate the end of his chairmanship with the election results.

The only successful ANO movement candidate for the Senate was the director of the non-state, non-profit Pontis organization in Šumperk, Miroslav Adámek. In the Karviná area, Mayor of Bohumín Petr Vícha (ČSSD) won election to the upper house; in the Chomutov area the Senate seat was won by the director of the Zoo at Dvůr Králové nad Labem, Přemysl Rabas (SEN 21); the Prague 8 Senate seat was won by former Deputy Finance Minister Lukáš Wagenknecht (running for the Pirates); in Opava the seat went to the Mayor of Bolatice, former Czech MP Herbert Pavera (TOP 09); and in the Ostrava-město precinct the Senate seat went to the entrepreneur and mountain climber Leopold Sulovský (Ostravak).

In České Budějovice the entrepreneur Ladislav Faktor succeeded with his Senate race, while in the Prostějov area the seat went to former Czech MP Jitka Chalánková - both ran as independents. According to the chair of the Czech Social Democrats, Jan Hamáček, the political reality in the country has changed and his party is no longer the strongest party on the left.

Speaking at a press conference, Hamáček called on his fellow party members to unite. As for the chair of the TOP 09 party, Jiří Pospíšil, he said he considered his party's Senate results to have been solid.

In an interview with the Czech Press Agency, Pospíšil expressed his appreciation for the fact that TOP 09 member Pavera had won a seat, as well as Bek and Fischer in Prague, who were both supported by his party. As for the Pirates, they got just one of their three candidates into the Senate after the runoff and after assessing the results admitted that they should have positioned their candidates better.

No serious incidents were reported as having taken place during the runoffs by the local commissions. Turnout was slightly higher than it was two years ago, when just 15.4 % of voters cast ballots in the second round of the Senate race.

ČTK, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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ODS, Senát, Senátní volby, Volby



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