Opposition parties win big in Czech Senate election
PRAGUE (AP) — Opposition parties in the Czech Republic have cemented their dominant position in Parliament’s upper house after winning big in an election for a third of the seats in the Senate, as the ruling center-left coalition government suffered a setback.
With nearly all the votes counted Saturday by the Statistics Office, the mostly center-right opposition parties won 26 of the 27 seats up for grabs in the 81-seat Senate in the two-round election.
The senior governing party — the centrist ANO (YES) party led by Prime Minister Andrej Babis — won only one seat. Its coalition partner, the left-wing Social Democrats, won none of the 10 seats they were defending.
Their minority government is supported in Parliament’s lower house by far-left Communists who have no seat in the Senate.
The lower house dominates the legislative process, but the Senate plays an important role in passing constitutional amendments and approving Constitutional Court judges.
A grouping of mayors and independent candidates won 11 seats, followed by the conservative Civic Democratic Party with five and the Christian Democrats with three.
Amid the coronavirus pandemic, face masks were required at voting places.
Quarantined voters had the option of casting ballots from vehicles at temporary polling stations across the country.
Those who were unable to use a car or venture out could ask a special electoral committee to send a ballot box to their homes.
Before the coronavirus pandemic, quarantined voters were not allowed to cast ballots, although their numbers were relatively low.
The Czech Republic, population 10.7 million, is seeing a record surge in new confirmed virus cases. Their number hit 8,618 on Friday, a new record for the fourth straight day.
The country has a total of almost 110,000 confirmed cases, including 905 deaths.