Today is election day in the Czech elections. In addition to local elections, its also the first round of elections to the Senate. The Czech Republic’s 81-seat senate is the product of layered elections, with one third of the six-year mandates being up for election every two years. Today and yesterday, then, the Czechs vote in districts that were up for election in 2008. Back then, the Social Democrats won big, gaining 23 out of the 27 seats. The other four went to the Civic Democrats (ODS, 3 seats) and the Communists (KSCM, 1 seat). See here the Hosp. Noviny overview which includes a map.
Communist Senate Seat
It already looks like the communists may be losing their one seat (the only one they have in the senate) in the district of Znojmo. Indeed, the Znojmo KSCM candidate is not even making it to the second round gaining only about 13 per cent of the vote while the Christian Democratic (KDU-CSL) and Social Democratic (CSSD) candidates have over 20 per cent.
Given the predominance of CSSD six years ago, they seem bound to lose at least some seats and the main question is how many. The big new contender on the Czech political scene is ANO, who came in second in last year’s parliamentary elections, with about 1 per cent fewer votes than CSSD.
UPDATE: CSSD hold a majority of 46 seats in the senate right now, which they will hold on to if they win 18 seats this year. Of course, we won’t know more until two weeks from now, when the second round of elections is held in those districts (likely all of them) that don’t produce an outright majority
UPDATE 2: With 87 per cent of the votes counted, it looks like CSSD is not making it to the second round in five of the districts they hold, although they are in the second round in a district they did not previously hold. Looks like CSSD loses at least 4 seats even if they win all second rounds they’re in.
A second issue of interest is whether ODS, who have been suffering badly in the polls in recent years, will be able to hold on to their three senate seats, or whether they’ll lose those too.
UPDATE: Based on early results, ODS seems to be at least making it to the second round in the districts were they are incumbent, but not in many other places; as a comparison, in 2008 ODS candidates competed in the second round in 20 out of the 27 districts.
UPDATE 2: The map above has ODS competing in second rounds in six districts, although they’re runners-up in all of them.
Former USTR Director Candidacy
Of particular interest for me is the candidacy of Pavel Zacek in the Prague 5 district. Running for ODS in one of the three districts were ODS is incumbent, Zacek faces an uphill battle now that his party has fallen on hard times. The reason that Zacek’s candidacy is interesting to me is that he is the first director of the Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes, and is one of the historians who has worked hard to have the communist past be remembered and to publish on the history of the secret service in particular. Zacek is a controversial figure and had to leave the institute after only a few years, first being dismissed from the post of director, then being fired from the institute altogether. The cross-over from the world of historical research into the world of party politics confirms many of my arguments about the way in which historiography in the Czech Republic is politicized. Of course, it remains to be seen whether Zacek’s candidacy will be successful. To be continued.
UPDATE: Prague 5 results are being posted here – With .8 % of the votes counted, Christian Democrat Václav Láska is up ahead! Turnout in Prague 5 only 18 per cent, as opposed to a national turnout of 40 per cent. Should make the counting go quicker!
UPDATE 2: Those turnout numbers are also going up, it’s now put at 26 per cent, so part of the counting apparently includes figuring out turnout. Láska still ahead, but Žáček now in second place (2.3 per cent counted).
UPDATE 3: In Prague 5, 24 per cent of the votes have now been counted, Láska has 27 per cent, Žáček in second place has 17.