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Infamous Czech Senator Janáčková loses in final round

Ostrava/Prague, 24.10.2010 10:49, (ROMEA)

The mayor of Slezská Ostrava, Antonín Maštalíř (ČSSD), has been elected senator for the Ostrava-město district, defeating controversial mayor and Senator Liana Janáčková (unaffiliated, running on the ticket of the Independents' movement). There was a 22.89 % turnout in the district's second round.

The outcome may have some unpleasant side effects for journalist Marek Stoniš of Reflex magazine. In an article published before the second round, he said that if Janáčková lost he would eat one of the packets of matches she had sent to voters as part of her campaign propaganda. The distribution of the matches coincided with the announcement of the verdict in the case of the Vítkov arson attack on a Roma family and prompted widespread criticism.

Maštalíř won 53.03 % of the vote in the second round (12 091 votes). Janáčková was supported by 46.96 % of voters (10 707 votes).

Maštalíř said he knew the race would be close. "I expected to win by just a hair in equal combat," he told the Czech Press Agency immediately after the results were announced.

After the first round of elections, Czech PM Petr Nečas (ODS) expressed his support for Janáčková, saying she would be a better alternative in the upper chamber than a Social Democrat. Some ODS members in Ostrava disagreed.

"It's a shame. I wouldn't have lost if it weren't for the matches. I felt like I had enormous support and I don't know why people didn't turn out in the end. ČSSD voters are probably more disciplined," Janáčková told news server iDNES.cz. "I definitely did not want to instigate any attacks of any kind by sending out those matches, arson or racist or otherwise," she told Radiožurnál. "The ODS party in Ostrava publicly supported Mr Maštalíř and he won thanks to their support."

Janáčková has been a member of the Senate since 2004, when she was elected on the ticket of the Independents' movement. She was an ODS member from 1992-2004 before joining the new Free Citizens' Party at the start of 2009. In February she was elected party vice-chair. She resigned that function in April and left the party in June.

ČTK, Gwendolyn Albert, Zdeněk Ryšavý, ryz, Czech Press Agency, iDNES.cz, Radiožurnál, Reflex, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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