Czechs head to polls to elect new parliament and end political stalemate

By bne IntelliNews October 25, 2013

Czechs are voting on October 25-26 in early general elections hoping to end a political stalemate that has crippled policy making since June when the former centre-right government collapsed.

Tired of austerity and corruption scandals that toppled the rightist parties from power in the summer, voters in the central European country will hand a victory to leftwingers with the main centre-left Social Democratic Party (CSSD) poised to win the early vote. Yet, latest opinion polls showed a dip in voter support for CSSD meaning that the party will most certainly need to rely on one or two partners in the future parliament to govern.

The latest poll by CVVM showed that CSSD would win 26% of the votes, followed by the far-left Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia (KSCM) with 18%. Third ranked newcomer centrist Action of Dissatisfied Citizens (ANO) set up by Slovak-born billionaire Andrej Babis with a backing of 16.5%. Former ruling rightist parties TOP 09 and Civic Democrats (ODS) follow with 9% and 6.5%. The CVVM poll showed that two more parties have the chance to cross the 5% threshold to win seats in the future parliament -Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL) and the Dawn of Direct Democracy (Usvit) of Czech-Japanese entrepreneur and senator Tomio Okamura.

CSSD has said it will seek to form a minority government backed by, but not including, KSCM. This could hand the Communists a share in power for the first time after the fall of communism in 1989. Yet if the two fail to garner a majority in parliament, another partner will be needed. Protracted post-election negotiations and uncertainty about future government policies will delay measures needed to revive the economy, cast doubt over next year’s budget and eventually deter foreign investors who value the country's relative stability.

The Czech Republic emerged in Q2 from an 18-month long recession fuelled by the austerity policies of the former rightist government and the eurozone’s debt crisis. CSSD has pledged to boost public spending to kick-start the economy.


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