Czech ruling coalition retains majority in Senate

By bne IntelliNews October 20, 2014

The Czech centre-left ruling coalition has retained control of the upper house of the parliament, the Senate, after winning this weekend’s elections. Czechs voted to fill one-third of the seats in the Senate in a run-off on Oct 17-18 after none of the 27 candidates won the first round held a week earlier.

Official results from the statistics office showed the three-party coalition comprising Social Democrats (CSSD), ANO and Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL) winning 19 of the 27 constituencies contested giving it control over 46 seats in the 81-member Senate. Yet, the overall results fell short of a three-fifths majority required for constitutional changes.

The senior ruling party CSSD won 10 seats meaning it will stay the largest party in the upper house although it lost its absolute majority as the number of its senators fell to 33. The party was defending 23 of the 27 seats contested and was widely expected to lose most of them. ANO won its first four seats in the Senate and KDU-CSL succeeded in five wards.

Turnout stood at a record-low of 16.7% showing that Czechs are fed-up with politics after they had to go to the polls for the fifth time in less than two years following the presidential elections in January 2013, the general election in October 2013, the elections to the European Parliament in May 2014 and the municipal and first round of Senate elections held on Oct 10-11.

The election win for the governing parties means the cabinet of Bohuslav Sobotka will face no major obstacles in passing laws. The Senate is the less influential of the parliament’s two chambers but it can seek changes to bills approved by the lower house, make constitutional amendments as well as approve Constitutional Court judges and members of the central bank’s governing board.

The Senate win comes just a week after the local elections when the three governing parties also fared well suggesting that Czechs are supporting the government that since taking power in January 2014 has raised the minimum wage and increased public investments to help the economy recover from a record-long recession.

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