By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent BosNewsLife
BUDAPEST/PRAGUE (BosNewsLife)– Official results from the Czech Republic’s general election indicate a left-leaning Social Democrats party narrowly won the country’s general election. The Social Democrats received less votes than expected, prompting its leader to resign. Analysts say that despite the victory, the country appears headed to a center right government.
The Social Democrats are not celebrating their victory in the Czech Republic’s general election.
Official results from the country’s election agency give the leftist party just about 22 percent of the vote and 56 places in Parliament’s 200-seat lower house. That is much less than the roughly 30 percent victory opinion polls had predicted.
Its main right-wing rival, the Civic Democrats, came in second with just over 20 percent and 53 seats. But analysts say they are better placed to form a functioning coalition with two new rightist parties.
The Social Democrats’ leader, former Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek, has already resigned after his party’s poor performance in the poll.
BETTER RESULT EXPECTED
He explains that his party expected a better result and adds ordinary people also lost in this election. The politician makes clear that the country is on the way toward a right-wing coalition. He says in a democratic country people choose the direction of the nation and we respect this choice.
Paroubek’s skepticism is shared by the Social Democrats first Vice Chairman, Bohuslav Sobotka, who took over as party leader. He has made clear he sees no realistic chance for a leftist government.
The outcome is a blow for the Social Democrats. The party campaigned to increase welfare spending to attract the many Czechs who are struggling because of the economic crisis.
Its rightist rival Civic Democrats promised spending cuts to reduce the budget deficit and return the European Union nation to economic growth.
Civic Democrats leader Petr Necas says the results indicate many voters agree with this policy plan and that he expects to form the next government. “If the results are confirmed, it would mean a big chance for creating a coalition of fiscal responsibility, which he claims the country needs in these hard times.”
Czech President Vaclav Klaus had said he would first ask the winning party to form a government, but later changed his statement, saying much would depend on the overall election results.
Analysts say the austerity plans proposed by right-wing candidates seemed to persuade many voters. Rightist parties have pointed at the economic crisis in Greece and the weakening euro currency as a warning the Czech Republic must cut its public spending, soon.
A new conservative party, TOP 09, became the third largest political force with 41 parliamentary seats. Another new party, the centrist Public Affairs, received 24 seats.
The Communist party, which autocratically ruled the country for decades, also remained in parliament, but it is not expected to participate in the next government. More than 60 percent of voters participated in the two-day general election.
The new administration will replace an interim government that has been in place since March 2009, following the collapse of a three-party center-right cabinet. (Parts of this BosNewsLife story also air via the Voice of America network).