Category Archives: Czech Republic
The second round of direct presidential elections were held in the Czech Republic on January 25-26, 2013. The President serves a five-year term, renewable once. Although often described as a ceremonial head of state, the President does have a few significant powers. The President has veto power over legislation, although the legislature can override a veto. The President also appoints judges to the Supreme and Constitutional Courts, may dissolve the Chamber of Deputies under certain circumstances and has shared authority with the Prime Minister over foreign policy, the use of the military, the appointment of lower court judges, and the granting of amnesty. Until 2012, the President was indirectly elected by members of both houses of Parliament in a convoluted process open to corruption and back-room political deals. This was the first time that Czech voters directly elected their President. I covered the first round here.
Two colourful candidates qualified for the runoff two weeks ago. Miloš Zeman, a former Social Democratic (ČSSD) Prime Minister between 1998 and 2001 who has since broken with his party, won 24.2%. Karel Schwarzenberg, a wealthy Bohemian aristocrat who is the country’s foreign minister in the centre-right government, won 23.4%.
Both candidates are colourful personalities; Zeman is noted for his sharp and often insulting wit, his populist demeanor and his controversial views on issues such as climate change or Muslims. As Prime Minister, he helped modernize the country and guided the country towards eventual EU membership in 2004. However, his confidence and supply agreement with the centre-right ODS in 1998, then led by Václav Klaus, now the outgoing President, has been controversial. Many see the deal between the two dominant parties, ČSSD and ODS, as the deal which entrenched links between big business interests and the two major parties. The country has struggled with endemic political corruption. Zeman was endorsed by Václav Klaus, the outgoing centre-right President (in office since 2003), a controversial figure known for his outspoken opposition to the European Union and his skepticism of man-made climate change. Although Zeman is supportive of European integration, he is also rather pro-Russian. His links with shady lobbyist Miroslav Šlouf (linked to the late mafia kingpin František Mrázek) and the Russian oil company, LUKoil, have raised questions about his campaign’s funding.
Karel Schwarzenberg, is a Bohemian prince, rather colourful in his own right. An urbane and sophisticated aristocrat, he is known for his sharp appearance but also his tendency to doze off during long meetings. His family fled Czechoslovakia for Austria in 1948 after the communist coup, and Schwarzenberg was active in Austrian conservative politics during the Cold War. When he returned to Prague in 1990, he became a close friend and ally of Václav Havel, the leading opponent of the communist regime who served as President between 1993 and 2003. He has served as foreign minister in the centre-right government since 2010 (and before that between 2007 and 2009). He is a leading figure in the pro-European centre-right TOP09 party.
Both candidates had pledged to run a clean campaign in the runoff, but the campaign became rather acrimonious quickly. In a TV debate on January 17, Schwarzenberg drew criticism when he said that the expulsion of Czechoslovakia’s inter-war German minority, the Sudeten Germans, after World War II would be considered a war crime today and the creators of the Beneš decrees (laws which led to the expulsion of the Sudeten Germans after the war) would be tried as war criminals in The Hague. Schwarzenberg was also criticized for his long exile abroad and for the fact that his wife cannot speak Czech. President Václav Klaus, who supports Zeman, expressed concern about Schwarzenberg, pointing to his wife’s inability to speak Czech and his emigration during the communist regime.
During a TV interview, Zeman made a sexist joke in an attempt to criticize his opponent’s aristocratic roots. He said that raping female serfs had conferred an evolutionary advantage on squires (Zeman’s last name means squire/yeoman) while princes degenerated because “they did not have to rape their serfs.” Women’s groups criticized Zeman’s comment.
Zeman’s strategy was to turn the runoff into a campaign between the left (him) and the right (Schwarzenberg) and link his opponent to the unpopular right-wing government. The current government, led by Prime Minister Petr Nečas, is very unpopular because of austerity policies which have led to a double-dip recession and deeply entrenched corruption in the governing parties.
Turnout in the runoff was 59.1%, down from 61.3% in the first round.
Miloš Zeman (SPOZ) 54.8%
Karel Schwarzenberg (TOP 09) 45.19%
Former Prime Minister Miloš Zeman was elected President of the Czech Republic by a bit less than 10 points. The unpopularity of the current government played a large role in Schwarzenberg’s defeat. Zeman was able to turn the presidential runoff into a battle of the left versus the right, and linked Schwarzenberg to the unpopular government. Although Schwarzenberg as foreign minister is not directly linked to the austerity policies and he is one of the government’s most popular members, he could still be easily associated with Petr Nečas’ government and the unpopular austerity policies, which in good part have been spearheaded by another member of Schwarzenberg’s party (TOP09), finance minister Miroslav Kalousek.
Zeman’s campaign was very adroit at exploiting latent patriotic, anti-aristocratic and anti-German sentiments with older, rural voters. Aristocrats, especially German-speaking aristocrats like Schwarzenberg, are unpopular figures. In the nineteenth century, aristocrats and the Czech nobility did not play a major role in the rebirth of Czech nationalism and the promotion of the Czech language. More radical nationalists and the left cast the aristocracy as the enemy. Following the independence of Czechoslovakia, aristocratic titles were cancelled and their land was redistributed in a land reform in 1919. Decades of communist rule after 1948 encouraged anti-aristocratic sentiments. Similarly, many older (and rural) voters hold anti-German sentiments, dating back to the 1930s. Zeman, his opponents would contend, ran a very underhanded dirty campaign which played up nationalistic and anti-aristocratic sentiments. They were able to portray their opponent as insufficiently Czech and patriotic; and too worldly. Schwarzenberg’s comments about the expulsion of the Sudeten Germans after World War II certainly did not help matters for him, neither did his own biography.
The map of the runoff reveals a major rural – urban divide, and something of a regional divide between Bohemia and Moravia/Silesia. Unsurprisingly, the map was basically a traditional left-right contest.
Schwarzenberg’s electorate, like in the first round, was urban, fairly young, middle-class/well off and white-collar. He won 66% of the vote in Prague and similar percentages in two affluent suburban districts which surround the Czech capital. Outside Prague, his support was again largely urban. He won Plzeň, Brno, Liberec and České Budějovice. He came close in the district containing Karlovy Vary, a spa city in northern Bohemia. On the other hand, Zeman’s electorate was more rural, older, blue-collar and economically deprived. There was a regional aspect in the split, Schwarzenberg performed best in central Bohemia, the old aristocratic base of the country and generally a rather well-off region. On the other hand, Zeman won by big margins in the eastern regions of Moravia, Silesia and also North Bohemia – poorer regions, some of them very industrialized. Zeman’s best result was 76% in Karviná, the heart of a coal mining basin in Silesia. He also won larger urban centres in Silesia and Moravia: Ostrava, an industrial city (65%); Olomouc (59%) and Zlín, an old industrial city (54%). Zeman also performed well in North Bohemia, usually the Communist Party’s strongest region. This is a major industrial (coal mining) region which was extensively resettled after the war (following the expulsion of Sudeten Germans) by Slovaks or Moravians. Zeman, generally, did better in rural and lower-income areas which have suffered the brunt of the government’s austerity policies.
Zeman’s victory means the replacement of one strong-willed and influential President by another similar figure; the difference between the two men is that Zeman appears more pro-European than Klaus, and unlike both of his predecessors he is ready to support a government which is supported by the Communist Party. Zeman has said that he would attend cabinet meetings and try to influence important legislation. The presidency is still a largely ceremonial function, but the direct election of the president might give the president more legitimacy to play a more active role in Czech politics. Zeman will take office in March.
The first round of direct presidential elections were held in the Czech Republic on January 11-12, 2013 with a runoff scheduled for January 25-26. The President serves a five-year term, renewable once. Although often described as a ceremonial head of state, in contrast to the Austrian and Hungarian presidents, the Czech President does have a few significant powers. The President has veto power over legislation, although the legislature can override a veto. The President also appoints judges to the Supreme and Constitutional Courts, may dissolve the Chamber of Deputies under certain circumstances and has shared authority with the Prime Minister over foreign policy, the use of the military, the appointment of lower court judges, and the granting of amnesty.
Until 2012, the President was elected indirectly by the members of the Chamber of Deputies and Senate through a convoluted and overly complex process. This electoral process, as in 2003 and 2008, was marred by allegations of backroom deals between parties/politicians and corruption. The 2008 presidential election was quite controversial, and led to the reform of the system. Since a reform last year, the President is directly elected to serve a two-year term. Some have criticized this reform, saying that the direct election of the President would strengthen his power and weaken parliament (the country is a parliamentary republic).
Since the fall of communism and the Velvet Divorce in 1993, two very forceful and imposing personalities have held the presidency. Václav Havel, the playwright and leading opponent of the communist regime, served until 2003. Havel was widely respected at home and abroad for his work in establishing democracy in his country. He was succeeded in 2003 by Václav Klaus, who had served as Prime Minister between 1992 and 1997 and founded the ruling conservative Civic Democratic Party (ODS). In contrast to the widely respected Havel, Klaus is a far more controversial figure known for his outspoken opposition to the European Union and his skepticism of man-made climate change. He took strong stances against the European Union, which often irritated his European neighbors. Klaus was critical of the Lisbon Treaty and was reluctant to sign it, although he ultimately did. In recent years, Klaus has clashed with the governing centre-right coalition, even though it is led by the ODS.
The current government is led by Prime Minister Petr Nečas (ODS). Nečas’ cabinet is patchy and has been living on the edge since April 2012. One of his junior partners, the gadfly Public Affairs (VV) party was kicked out of the coalition (but some VV deputies stayed in government, forming a new party, LIDEM). The government lacks a coherent absolute majority in the lower house.
The government has implemented stringent austerity measures, including cutting investment, public spending and raising taxes. These austerity policies decreased public demand and led to a double-dip recession. The country’s economy shrunk by around 1% in 2012. However, the country’s deficit has been getting smaller: 3.2% of the GDP in 2011, down from 5.8% of the GDP in 2009. The cabinet is dead-set on getting the deficit below the EU’s 3% limit, it has recently introduced a bill to raise the VAT by 1% and raise taxes for high earners. Austerity has been unpopular with voters, and hurt the ODS and its allies in regional and senatorial elections in October 2012. But neither the ODS nor the inept opposition ČSSD (social democrats) are popular with voters. Elected on a platform of cracking down on corruption, Nečas’ cabinet has done – more or less – the opposite. Corruption is prevalent both within the governing parties and the opposition ČSSD, and voters are disgusted by corrupt politicians and the backroom deals which dominate the unstable parliamentary politics.
In early November 2012, the government survived a backbench revolt led by six ODS MPs who disagreed with the cabinet’s decision to raise the VAT by 1%. In somewhat obscure circumstances, the government was able to convince most of the rebels to back down: two supported it, three members resigned rather than voting on the confidence motion (they were replaced by the next-in-line candidates on the ODS’ 2010 list) and one left the party. The government survived, 101-93. The government could face another confidence vote in the next few days, following Klaus’ controversial decision to pardon over 6000 prisoners and cancel all court proceedings which had been ongoing for over eight years.
Presidential candidates needed the signatures of 50,000 citizens or the support of 20 deputies or 10 Senators. There were nine candidates, including some colourful personalities. The governing ODS nominated Přemysl Sobotka, a senator and former president of the Senate. The ČSSD nominated Jiří Dienstbier Jr., also a senator and the son of a noted dissident. However, both of these candidates had a tough time appealing to many voters in a crowded field and against some colourful personalities.
The frontrunners in the campaign were Jan Fischer and Miloš Zeman. Fischer is a statistician who was head of the Czech Statistical Office until he became a caretaker Prime Minister for a year between 2009 and 2010, after Mirek Topolánek’s cabinet collapsed. Fischer was a popular and competent Prime Minister. His candidacy received the support of Prague’s business community, which is often considered a mixed blessing for Czech politicians given the close links between big business and some politicians. He was also criticized for having been a member of the Communist Party between 1981 and 1990, but like many Czechs he defended himself by saying that membership in the ruling party was the only way for apolitical civil servants and academics like him to maintain employment. Fischer’s campaign was generally pro-European and pro-business, but his campaign was fairly colourless.
In stark contrast to the mild-mannered and technocratic Fischer, Miloš Zeman is a brash and sharp-elbowed old politico who has a reputation for abrasiveness and rudeness. Zeman was the leader of the ČSSD in the 1990s and was behind the party’s rise to power. Zeman’s ČSSD won the 1998 election and he became Prime Minister, after signing an “opposition agreement” with Václav Klaus’ ODS. The ODS provided Zeman’s cabinet with confidence and supply, in return the ODS received high-profile positions in the public sector. This opposition agreement between the two major parties in the country is often viewed as the symbol for the proximity between the two parties, despite their apparent opposition to one another. Zeman served as Prime Minister until 2001. In 2003, he tried to run for President but, having alienated members of his own party, he did not do as well as expected. Zeman remained in the party, but increasingly clashed with the ČSSD’s leadership. Following a dispute with then-leader Jiří Paroubek in 2007, Zeman quit the party. Emerging from retirement in 2010, he founded his own party, the Party of Civic Rights (SPOZ). Zeman is a colourful figure, known for his sharp and often insulting wit, and his controversial views. Like Klaus, he is skeptical of man-made climate change. In 2011, Zeman commented that Islam was the ‘enemy’ and likened Muslims who believe in the Qur’an to anti-Semitic and racist Nazis. While Fischer is a very popular figure, well regarded by most voters; Zeman is a far more controversial and divisive figure. He is well liked by older voters outside of Prague, but many others dislike him. Outgoing President Václav Klaus supported Zeman.
Zeman was widely regarded to have won a final debate, and eclipsed Fischer, the original front-runner in the polls. One of the candidates who benefited from Fischer’s fall was Karel Schwarzenberg, the incumbent foreign minister and the candidate of the pro-European centre-right TOP 09. Schwarzenberg is a wealthy Bohemian prince, known for his sharp appearance. He grew up in Austria and was active in Austrian conservative politics during the Cold War, but he returned to Czechoslovakia when the regime fell and was a close friend and collaborator of Václav Havel. He was foreign minister between 2007 and 2009, nominated by the Green Party, and again since 2010. He is one of the leading founders of TOP 09.
One candidate, Vladimír Franz, attracted international attention for his unusual appearance. An artist, opera composer and university professor, Franz’s body is entirely tattooed. An outsider candidate, his vague anti-corruption and pro-education platform appealed to many younger voters who are tired of the country’s corrupt and ever-bickering ruling elites. He surged to 11% support in the last opinion poll.
Other candidates included MEP Zuzana Roithová, nominated by the KDU-ČSL; Táňa Fischerová, an actress and former MP (2002-2006) for a small pro-European liberal party; and Jana Bobošíková, a former Eurosceptic MEP.
Turnout was 61.31%, a bit below the turnout in the 2010 general election. This turnout seems a bit low, given that the campaign had apparently excited and motivated many voters, leading some to predict 70% turnout. The Communist Party (KSČM) did not nominate a candidate of its own and was split between Zeman and Dienstbier. Judging from the low turnout in the KSČM’s strongest regions, it appears as if many of its voters did not turn out. The results were as follows:
Miloš Zeman (SPOZ) 24.21%
Karel Schwarzenberg (TOP 09) 23.40%
Jan Fischer (Ind) 16.35%
Jiří Dienstbier Jr. (ČSSD) 16.12%
Vladimír Franz (Ind) 6.84%
Zuzana Roithová (KDU-ČSL) 4.95%
Táňa Fischerová (Ind) 3.23%
Přemysl Sobotka (ODS) 2.46%
Jana Bobošíková (Suverenita) 2.39%
As expected, former Prime Minister Miloš Zeman (SPOZ) placed first and qualified for the runoff. The surprise came from the runner-up, foreign minister Karel Schwarzenberg, who won 23.4% and qualified for the runoff, distancing Jan Fischer, the vaguely centre-right independent who was the original front-runner and still widely expected to qualify for the runoff even if his candidacy had lost speed following the final debate.
Fischer’s support base was likely quite soft, made up in large part of urban middle-classes and pro-business centre-right voters whose early support for Fischer might have had more to do with their distaste for the polarizing Miloš Zeman. Fairly bland and colourless despite his widespread popularity with the electorate, Fischer’s support fell apart following the last debate. Many of his supporters, if my assessment of his original support is correct, preferred Karel Schwarzenberg, who had been gaining ground in the polls throughout the campaign. After all, Fischer and Schwarzenberg are fairly ideologically similar.
The other, smaller, surprise came from the ČSSD’s candidate, Jiří Dienstbier, who had been polling in the low teens for most of the campaign. He outperformed most of his polling results, taking 16.1%. I’m not sure what explains his late mini-surge in support. On the other hand, the candidate of the other traditional party – the ODS – did horribly. Přemysl Sobotka won only 2.5% of the votes! Certainly the unpopularity of the current government did not help him, and Sobotka was a largely unknown candidate in a field of heavyweights.
Vladimír Franz did not do as well as some had thought he would. His support had apparently increased to 11% in the last polls, but he came out from the first round in fifth place with only 6.8% of the vote. It should not be surprising that his potential support turned out to be quite soft. During the campaign, his pro-education and anti-corruption stance appealed to many apathetic younger voters. They probably did not turn out for him in the end.
Schwarzenberg, unsurprisingly, did best in Prague (43.2%) and its suburbs, which form his party’s traditional base (educated upper middle-classes). Broadly, his support reflected that of the right, with strong results in urban areas and in the wealthier rural areas of Bohemia. The ODS’ pathetic support was spread equally, at low levels, throughout the country. On the other hand, Zeman’s support closely reflected that of the left. He performed well in Moravia, where the ČSSD is usually stronger, and in the Ore Mountains region of Bohemia (Ústí nad Labem and Karlovy Vary regions). Somewhat surprisingly, Dienstbier’s support does not seem to have closely reflected that of his party in general elections. Certainly somebody who knows more about Czech electoral geography would be able to draw better conclusions out of the general map and each candidate’s regional support.
The runoff, two weeks from now, will oppose Zeman and Schwarzenberg – broadly speaking, the left and right (which is what Zeman is now seeking to present the runoff as). There were no runoff polls before the first round, meaning that at this early stage, we can only rely on hypotheses. Zeman is a divisive and polarizing figure, who may have a strong lingering base of support but who might have trouble winning 50+1 in a runoff election. Schwarzenberg is a less polarizing figure than Zeman, meaning that he could be in a stronger position to win in the runoff. Though I don’t know if such factors could come into play, Schwarzenberg could be perceived as having a more ‘presidential’ image than Zeman, and his foreign policy credentials as well as his ties to the late Václav Havel could come in useful. One would think that Fischer’s support will flow to Schwarzenberg while Dienstbier’s voters will prefer Zeman. Regardless of the winner, the Czech Republic will have a colourful head of state for the next five years.
Regional elections and the first round of senatorial elections were held in the Czech Republic on October 12-13, 2012. The Czech Republic is divided into thirteen regions in addition to Prague. These regions (kraje) were created in 2000 as second-level administrative divisions to replace the old 73 districts. Each region has a regional legislature elected directly through PR with a 5% thresholds, these legislatures in turn elect a regional president. Since their creation in 2000, there have been efforts at devolution to these regional governments, envisioned as better able to handle local government responsibilities than small municipalities. While it has been said that these regions have a great array of powers at their disposal, they have not used them much and regional government remains pretty weak. Voters, furthermore, have not identified much with these new regions, they preferred the old districts.
The Czech Senate, meanwhile, has 81 members elected by thirds every two years for six year terms. They are elected in single-member constituencies through the two round system. The Senate is a toothless body, which can delay laws passed by the lower house but its veto may be overridden by the lower house with only an absolute majority. Because of its redundancy and weak powers, there have been many calls to abolish the Senate. As a result of the 2008 and 2010 renewals, the opposition social democrats (ČSSD) now have a narrow absolute majority in the Senate.
The last general election, held in 2010, resulted in a centre-right government led by Prime Minister Petr Nečas (ODS). He leads a coalition including the ODS, traditionally the major right-wing party in the country and the newer right-wing and more pro-European TOP09 led by Karel Schwarzenberg. Until April 2012, the anti-corruption gadfly Public Affairs (VV) party led by former TV journalist Radek John participated in the coalition, until the party was forced out because of disagreements with the government’s austerity policies. VV, which had broken through in the 2010 general election, collapsed almost as quickly as it had emerged. Like most of these populistic “anti-corruption” outfits, VV wasn’t too clean either: one of its cabinet ministers was accused of taking a bribe. In April 2012, VV was kicked out due to disagreements with the austerity policies, but a split occured when some deputies – led by another cabinet minister, Karolína Peake - wanted to stay in the coalition and formed their own party, LIDEM. VV’s expulsion means that the cabinet is now only a minority government.
Since 2010, the Nečas cabinet has implemented stringent austerity measures, including cutting investment, public spending and raising taxes. The country’s economy shrank by 4.7% in 2009, and it may have be in a double-dip recession now: GDP is projected to shrink by 1% in 2012, down from +1.7% last year. However, the country’s deficit has been getting smaller: 3.2% of the GDP in 2011, down from 5.8% of the GDP in 2009. The cabinet is dead-set on getting the deficit below the EU’s 3% limit, it has recently introduced a bill to raise the VAT by 1% and raise taxes for high earners. These policies have largely been unpopular with voters. But voters are also angry over corruption scandals, which have also touched the inept opposition (ČSSD, social democrats). A prominent ČSSD old-timer (a former minister and current regional president of Central Bohemia), David Rath, got canned for taking bribes and kickbacks.
Turnout was 36.89% in the regional elections, down from 40.3% in 2008. In the 27 senate districts up for reelection, turnout was 34.9%, down from 42.09% in 2006 (the last time they were up). Results for the regional elections overall were as follows, compared to the 2008 regional elections:
ČSSD 23.58% (-12.27%) winning 205 seats (-75)
KSČM 20.43% (+5.4%) winning 182 seats (+68)
ODS 12.28% (-11.29%) winning 102 seats (-78)
KDU-ČSL and allies 9.87% (0.42%) winning 73 seats (+11)
TOP09 + STAN 6.63% (+6.63%) winning 44 seats (+44)
SPOZ 4.16% (+4.16%) winning 7 seats (+7)
Green Party and allies 2.83% (-0.32%) winning 10 seats (+10)
Pirate 2.19% (+2.19%) winning 0 seats (nc)
NEZ 1.68% (+1%) winning 5 seats (+5) winning 5 seats (+5)
SNK ED 1.02% (-0.24%) winning 3 seats (nc)
Regional parties and others 15.33% (+4.32%) winning 44 seats (+8)
In the first round of senatorial elections, no candidate was elected by the first round. 23 ČSSD candidates qualified for the runoff, as did 12 KSČM candidates, 10 ODS candidates, 2 KDU-ČSL candidates, 2 STAN (TOP09 allies) candidates, 1 Pirate, 1 Green and 3 others (2 indies, 1 Ostrava local party). In terms of first place showings, the ČSSD placed first in 11 of the 27 constituencies, the ODS placed first in 5, the KSČM in 4, the KDU-ČSL in two, the Greens in one, the Pirates in one and all three other candidates also placed first.
On these numbers, the ODS has already lost seven of the seats that it had won in 2006 (that year, it won 14 to the ČSSD’s 6) – which means that the party, at most, will hold only 18 seats in the Senate (down from 25) after this election. The KDU-ČSL will also hold fewer seats, it has failed to qualify for the runoffs in two seats they currently hold, meaning that, at most, they will hold four seats in the Senate (down from 6).
Updated with full results:
ČSSD winning 13 seats (+7) > 48 seats (+7)
ODS winning 4 seats (-10) > 15 seats (-10)
KDU-ČSL winning 2 seats (-2) > 4 seats (-2)
Independents winning 2 seats (+2) > 3 seats (+1)
STAN winning 2 seats (+1) > 2 seats (+1)
KSČM winning 1 seat (nc) > 2 seats (nc)
Green Party (SZ) winning 1 seat (+1) > 1 seat (+1)
Pirate winning 1 seat (+1) > 1 seat (+1)
Ostravak winning 1 seat (+1) > 1 seat (+1)
S.cz winning 0 seats > 2 seats (nc)
TOP09 winning 0 seats > 2 seats (nc)
The results are a major defeat for the governing parties. The 2008 regional elections, which had been held under similar political circumstances (a ODS government) were a landslide victory for the opposition ČSSD. This year, however, the ODS’ results were even worse, winning only 12.3% of the vote. Such a drubbing was not too surprising, the ODS had been expected to lose badly at the polls. The Prime Minister tried to downplay the results, noting that voters usually express discontent with the central government during regional elections. He has nonetheless pledged to continue deficit cuts, remaining set on bringing it down the EU’s 3% limit.
As results of various “midterm” elections in the Czech Republic (most notably the last few regional elections) show, these kind of midterm elections do indeed often produce rather bad results for the party in power. However, that explanation may only go so far. The ODS’ mauling (and that of the government in general, with 6.6% it is not like TOP09 did too great either) is not only midterm protest voting, it is also discontent with the austerity policies, the bad economic conditions in the country and the stench of corruption which permeates both the ODS and the ČSSD.
The ODS did top the poll in one region, Plzeň, but Nečas cannot even take solace in that result. In that region, the ODS list was headed by Jiří Pospíšil, a young former justice minister who was fired by Nečas in June 2012. Officially, he was removed from cabinet for opposing the austerity measures. In reality, Pospíšil’s attempts to fight corruption effectively likely rattled a few feathers.
The government is currently facing a backbench rebellion over its new tax plan which would increase the sales tax by 1% and raise taxes on high earners. With an uncertain parliamentary majority, some right-wing backbenchers are threatening to bring down the government on this matter of confidence as soon as next week (October 23). They would need three-fifths of the lower house to force snap elections, which the ČSSD are calling for. The election results will boost the standing of the rebels and put even more pressure on Nečas. The rebels had already received a major boost when President Václav Klaus criticized the tax pan.
The ODS would likely lose badly if a general election were held, but not as badly as in these elections. Turnout was very low in these elections, especially on the right. In a general election, turnout would be above 60% and the centre-right coalition would perform slightly better, but would still enter as the heavy underdog against the ČSSD (and no, being an underdog isn’t necessarily something to be happy about).
The ČSSD emerged as the largest party in these elections, but the party’s results are rather disastrous, especially after the landslide victory it had won in the last regional elections in 2008. Corruption scandals have significantly weakened the party’s standing in public opinion. The ČSSD still topped the poll in nine of the 13 regions, and the senate elections will likely allow them to expand their large (but fairly useless) majority in the upper house.
This means that, on the left and overall, the main winner of these elections are the Communists (KSČM). The KSČM is a controversial party in Czech politics, because it is one of the few (the only?) unreformed communist parties in eastern Europe to still enjoy significant popular support, mostly from a core of devoted activists and voters who turned out heavily in these regional elections. The KSČM has been shunned by the other parties, with the ČSSD expressly refusing to collaborate with them at the national level. This has meant that the KSČM has remained in opposition, vitam aeternam, being able to freely oppose any policies without being held responsible itself.
Much has been made of the KSČM’s result this year, and it is true that it did impressively well. However, it isn’t the party’s first spectacular result in midterm elections of this type. It has never won over 18% of the vote in general elections, but in the 2000 regional elections it won 21.2% and in the 2004 European elections it won 20.3%. The 2000 regionals were held two years after the 1998 elections, in which the ODS agreed to support a ČSSD minority cabinet in exchange for a portion of power. This agreement is remembered as the moment when the two major parties began “cooperating in unfair practices” (cite). In 2004, the ČSSD government was extremely unpopular. The KSČM’s successes in 2000, 2004 and again this year are not emblematic of a revolutionary fervour or a fundamental shift to the far-left, but rather the result of the KSČM raking up protest votes, dissatisfied at the economic situation, rampant corruption in both major parties and the rather thin policy differences between the ODS and ČSSD. With the economic crisis and major discontent at the traditional order of things (politically, but also economically), the KSČM’s vague message of egalitarianism and more jobs struck a chord with many voters.
The Communists have topped the poll in two regions, Karlovy Vary and Ústí nad Labem – both in northern Bohemia, an industrial and mining heartland which has been the KSČM’s main stronghold in the past. Some have expressed satisfaction at the prospect of the KSČM governing two regions, it will give them a chance to prove themselves and will force them to take up actual responsibilities.
The KSČM’s success has had its influence on the ČSSD, whose leader Bohuslav Sobotka has publicly said that he would be open to a ČSSD minority government backed by the KSČM. This is a major change in policy for the ČSSD at the national level. In the past, the virulently anti-communist ČSSD has been hostile to any national government even backed by the Communists (although there has been cooperation at a regional level).
The KDU-ČSL, a right-wing christian democratic party which was thrown out of the lower house in the 2010 elections, did surprisingly well. In coalition with local independents and other assorted local parties, the party did quite well, especially in its Moravian heartlands. It was likely an attractive option for right-wing voters. The party’s success could allow it to return to
As is the case with Czech regional and local elections, in some regions local and regional parties performed well – though in some cases even better than usual. In Liberec region, the Mayors for Liberec Region (SLK – it seems vaguely right of centre and sometimes allied with TOP09), topped the poll with 22% and 13 seats. In that same region, another local party – allied with the Greens it seems – “Change for Liberec” – won 16.9% and 10 seats. In Ústí nad Labem (North Bohemia), the vaguely regionalist Severočeši.cz (NorthBohemians.cz) – a party with two senators from 2010 – won 12% and 9 seats. Local parties also won seats in South Bohemia, Karlovy Vary (in this case, two local parties won seats) and in Hradec-Králové.
The second round of the senate elections will probably confirm the first round. These elections will have a major impact on the embattled Czech government, which could collapse as early as next week if the backbench ODS rebels are successful. Even if Nečas seeks to downplay these results as the product of cyclical midterm disappointment with incumbents, these elections will have severely weakened him and his government. A snap election is not yet a certainty, even if the cabinet collapses, as it requires a three-fifths majority in the lower house to call a snap election. However, the results of this election will increase the pressure on Nečas, run up the internal tension in the ODS and might lead the ODS’ partners to reconsider their participation- for example, TOP09′s leader Karel Schwarzenberg has said that the government’s economic measures should be reevaluated as to mitigate their social impact. All these factors mean that the government will probably not survive until 2014, and that an early election will come sooner than later. In these elections, the ODS risks a debacle, but the ČSSD is only in a marginally better position overall.
Updated October 27: In the second round of senatorial elections on October 19 and 20, the ČSSD increased its absolute majority in the Senate. With 48 seats, it now holds nearly three-fifths of the seats on its own. The ODS lost ten seats, leaving it with only 15 seats in the upper house. The two-round system once again worked against the KSČM, despite qualifying for runoffs in 12 constituencies, they won (rather, held) only a single seat (constituency 5 - Chomutov).
The most important result in these elections was probably turnout – or the lack thereof. Only 18.6% of voters turned up to the polls in the 27 constituencies up for grabs, down massively from 34.9% in the first round. Turnout was down across the board.
Runoffs for a third of the seats in the Czech Senate were held on October 22 and 23, following a first round last week. While the Czech Senate has few powers, it does have a few symbolic powers and control of the Senate is generally important for a government. However, the Senate can only delay and not block legislation from the lower house and the Senate’s decision is easily overridden by a simple majority vote in the lower house. As one might expect, turnout in senatorial elections in the Czech Republic are very low. Though turnout last week was a high 44.59%, it was only because local elections were held on the same day. Turnout today dwindled to 25.15%, which is probably an all time low.
Because no constituency elected a member by the first round, runoffs were held in all 27 constituencies. The opposition ČSSD had done well in the first round, leading in ten seats, while the three main governing parties: the ODS, TOP 09 and VV did rather poorly. Due to the larger fragmentation of the right-wing vote, some had thought that the right could do better in the runoffs overall, but on the other hand the high possibility of a fall in turnout was thought to be a possible benefit for the opposition.
The results confirmed and amplified the first round success of the ČSSD, with the party taking 12 of the 27 seats up for reelection. The ODS took 8 seats, TOP 09 took two, KDU-ČSL took two, S.cz took two and one independent won. These results will give the ČSSD a majority of seats in the Senate, an historic feat. Here is my calculation of the new composition of the Senate:
ČSSD winning 41 seats (+12) including 12 new
ODS winning 25 seats (-10) including 8 new
KDU-ČSL winning 5 seats (-1) including 2 new
TOP 09 winning 3 seats (-3) including 2 new
KSČM winning 2 seats (-1)
S.cz winning 2 seats (+2) including 2 new
SOS winning 1 seat (nc)
Independents winning 2 seats (+1) including 1 new
The ČSSD won by comfortable margins in almost all the 12 seats it won, including three where they had trailed in the first round. This indicates that voters who voted for other right-wing parties (such as TOP 09 and VV) in the first round stayed home, or, more unlikely, voted but didn’t behave as the ODS might have wished. Liana Janáčková, a rather right-wing and controversial independent, was notably defeated in Ostrava-město, though she had taken first place a week ago. VV managed to make the runoff in Frýdek-Místek, but narrowly lost to the left with 48.58% in the runoff. In Pardubice, where the ČSSD had polled a plurality a week ago, an independent narrowly won with 52.23% in the runoff, likely benefiting from good transfers from the right. The independent in question has said that she will probably join the KDU-ČSL ‘club’ (parliamentary group) in the Senate, thus aligning with the right. S.cz, another vaguely independent regional party in northern Bohemia, did well, taking the district it had led on the first round (a full 65% against the ODS) but also a strong win (56%) against the ČSSD in a nearby district. Somebody will probably know better, but this party seems to be based around some sort of opposition to coal mining quotas or limits in the coal (lignite) producing regions of northern Bohemia (Most and Ústí nad Labem). KDU-ČSL’s results were good for them, generally, especially after it’s creaming in May. Being outside parliament, the KDU-ČSL may have a chance at picking up votes from unhappy right-wingers, especially if the ČSSD proves once again unable to provide a strong alternative. On a final note, TOP 09 almost managed a third seat today with a very narrow loss – by 70 votes – in Prague 6 to the ODS.
The ČSSD’s victory is a bit abetted by the low turnout, and the party’s results aren’t equal to their 2008 landslide of epic proportions; but the bottom line is that this is an important victory for the ČSSD and a big blow for the government. The government’s ability to pass legislation will not be significantly altered, though the government may on its side reconsider some of its agenda after an early rebuke by the electorate. Some believe that a shift from budget cuts to tax increases as a remedy for the country’s budget woes is likely; and some believe that the government’s two junior members may start making noises about leaving the majority after their poor showings.
The first round of election for a third of the Czech Senate as well as key local elections were held in the Czech Republic on October 15 and 16. The Senate, which is made up of 81 members elected for six-year terms, is renewed every two years in thirds. The series of seats up this year were elected back in 2004, these seats being constituencies 1, 4, 7, 10, 13 and so on till 79. Senators are elected in a traditional two-round French-like system, with 50% needed to win by the first round. Local elections, in which around 62,000 local councillors were up for reelection, were held throughout the country with the biggest contest in the capital, Prague, where both the city’s mayor and district mayors were up for grabs.
The Senate has little power, it can only delay a bill from the lower house and this veto can be easily overridden with a mere simple majority in the lower house. As a result, turnout in Senate elections has usually been quite low, for example it reached 39.5% in the 2008 first round and was as low as 29% in 2004 (when these seats were last up). It shouldn’t be a surprise then that Senate elections tend to feature blow-outs, for example in 2008 the ČSSD won 23 of the 27 seats up (at a time when the ODS government was unpopular) while in 2004 the ČSSD won none of the seats up (in the Euro elections the same day, the ČSSD, then in power, came fifth overall).
The Czech Republic voted in general elections in May and its government is only four months old. In May, both traditional parties, the centre-right ODS and the centre-left ČSSD did especially poorly, to the benefit, largely, of two new right-wing parties, TOP 09 (which is more pro-European than the ODS) and VV (Public Affairs, a populist thing). The Greens and KDU-ČSL were wiped out, though the old Communists held their ground remarkably well. A coalition government led by the ODS’ Petr Nečas was formed by the ODS, TOP 09 and VV on a platform which includes major cuts to spending and public sector wages in an attempt to bring down the country’s budget deficit to the EU limit of 3% instead of the current 5.8%. One might think that the government would still be in its honeymoon a mere four months, but governments in bad economic times often have extremely short honeymoons as the economic circumstances force them into immediate and oftentimes unpopular actions. Voters tend to like calls for a healthy budget, low deficits and strong finances in election times but they often don’t like the fine-print revealed afterwards which says that their wages and social programs will have to suffer a bit in return.
While the government isn’t yet in the abyss, the poll ratings of all three governing parties have slid somewhat and the aura of ‘change’ and ‘newness’ which surrounded VV and TOP 09 in May have been tarnished a bit. Turnout reached a rather healthy 44.59% in the Senate election, a result perhaps of the local elections held on the same day. No one won by the first round, which is somewhat unusual, but not at all surprising considering the division of the votes these days. In fact, no candidate even broke 40% of the vote and most won under 35% of the votes in their constituencies. After the first round, the ODS leads in 11 seats, the ČSSD leads in 10, TOP 09 and KDU-ČSL are ahead in two seats each while two smaller parties (S.cz and NEZ) lead in one seat each. In
According to my calculations, in the seats not up this year, the ODS (and independent ODS types) has 17, ČSSD (and independent ČSSD types) has 29, the KDU-ČSL have 3, the KSČM (Communists) have 2, TOP 09 has 1, a small liberal party (SOS has) 1, and another seat is held by a random independent. I don’t know how much weight we should put in it, but Czech news website iDNES says that if the results of the first round were repeated in the runoff, the new Senate would be as follows:
ČSSD 40 seats (+11)
ODS 28 seats (-7)
KDU-ČSL 4 (-1)
TOP 09 3 (-3)
KSČM 2 (-1)
S.cz 1 (+1)
NEZ 1 (nc)
SOS 1 (nc)
Independent-NSK 1 (nc)
Of course, there’s still the runoff to go and given the further dispersion of right-wing votes than those of the left, it is possible that the right will do better in the runoff than in the first round. But, turnout in the runoff is usually even lower than in the first round and there are no local elections then to motivate turnout. That means that those who will probably vote in the runoff will probably be more likely to be opponents of the government than supporters of the government, especially if the latter suffer a morale drop from media headlines declaring the first round a quasi-rout for the right.
Already, in nine seats held by ODS incumbents, the ČSSD is ahead by the first round and in three of those, the ODS is already out by the first round. The ČSSD also has a shot in districts 58 and 70, held by KDU-ČSL and NEZ respectively. Overall, the ČSSD has 22 candidates in runoffs and ten of those are leading by the first round. The ODS has 19 candidates and 11 of them are ahead already. TOP 09 has five candidates in runoffs and two of them are ahead (both incumbents, in Karlovy Vary and Prague 10). One TOP 09 incumbent, a former Christian democrat, was defeated by the first round in the East Bohemian district of Ústí nad Orlicí (Pardubice region). TOP 09, overall, did relatively poorly and did not break through much in the Prague region, where one might have expected some big gains for the party there, coming from the ODS. The KDU-ČSL has three candidates, two of whom are leading. It held its ground quite well in its traditional Moravian heartland, which shows to some extent that the party isn’t dead despite it’s historic drubbing in May. VV is in the runoff in one place, in district 73 (Frýdek-Místek) in Moravia, where it is narrowly trailing the ČSSD as a result of the first round.
The ČSSD’s ‘victory’ isn’t as spectacular as some might make it out to be, given that it’s overall raw score remains quite paltry (low 20s or something) and that it merely gained back ground it shouldn’t have lost in its Moravian and east Bohemian bases. These seats were last up in 2004, and 2004 most certainly wasn’t a normal year. In fact, it was one of the most abnormal years in Czech elections and it was obvious that this year would be a ‘correction’ to the anomaly of 2004. Furthermore, one should remember that, similarly to the French PS, the ČSSD is very good at winning off-year local-level or low-interest elections but doesn’t seem to be able to do as spectacularly in the elections that actually matter. Lest we forget, the ČSSD’s former leader, Jiří Paroubek, was incompetent and it currently does not seem to have gotten itself a leader ready to inspire voters, though interim leader Bohuslav Sobotka doesn’t seem all that bad.
In local elections, the ČSSD has gained back some ground but didn’t do spectacularly overall. Associations of local parties and independents still hold nearly half of the seats, 30597 overall though these independents won only 12% of the votes. ČSSD won 19.7% of the votes cast, ODS got 18.8%, KSČM won 9.6%, TOP 09 won 9.5%, KDU-ČSL took 5.5% and VV took only 2.9% and did not break through anywhere.
Prague, Europe’s fifth wealthiest city, has been a stronghold of the ODS, which has held it since the first local elections in 1994. However, the emergence of TOP 09 as a centre-right pro-European type party has challenged ODS somewhat, and TOP 09 won the city in May. It was a big target for the party this year, and it seems to be one of the party’s few bright spots. It won 30.3% of the vote and 26 seats against 21.1% and 20 seats for ODS. ČSSD won 17.9% and 14 seats, up two while the Communists lost 3 seats and won 6.8% and 3 seats. A coalition between the Greens and SNK-ED, which held 10 seats in 2006, collapsed entirely and won a mere 5.9%. It is certainly a blow to the ODS, but it isn’t one which should come out of the blue entirely. Former central bank governor Zdenek Tuma is the favourite to become Mayor.
The Senate runoffs will tell us more about the results, but it is not totally crazy to think that if TOP 09 and VV do badly again in the runoffs they could reconsider their participation in the cabinet. Mid-term cabinet collapses are not unusual in the Czech Republic, especially if their junior partners feel that they made the wrong decision in joining the cabinet. The government could also consider shifts in its policy, such as dropping budget cuts in favour of tax hikes as a method to bridge the deficit. If the results of the first round are confirmed, this first test for the Czech government could prove interesting as a point of comparison to other European countries which recently elected governments committed to some tough budget cuts (UK, Slovakia, Netherlands especially) where their governments may or may not be doing so well in a few months time.
A long-awaited and much anticipated general election was held in the Czech Republic on May 28 and 29. All 200 seats in the Chamber of Deputies, which are elected in 14 electoral constituencies through d’Hondt 5%-threshold PR, were up for election, almost four years after the last election in 2006. This election, originally rumoured to be in 2009, was much delayed until it was finally set to May 2010. In May 2009, the government of Mirek Topolánek collapsed after a non-confidence motion was passed, after months of stalemate in a parliament where the government held 100 seats and the opposition held 100 seats – making the government dependent on both shaky coalition allies and one or two opposition rebels. Since then, a caretaker government – which ended up lasting over a year – was formed led by Jan Fischer, a little-known economist and former head of the Czech Statistical Office.
Since around the mid-1990s, two parties have dominated Czech politics. On the right, the Civic Democratic Party (ODS) was founded in 1991 by neoliberal members of the heterogenous anti-communist Civic Forum, which had won a crushing victory in the 1990 elections. The ODS’ most famous member is Václav Klaus, Prime Minister between 1992 and 1997, and incumbent President. He is known for his eurosceptic views and his denial of man-made global warming. The ODS does stick out from other European conservative parties for its euroscepticism and it’s more pro-American positions – it is similar in those regards to the British Tories, with whom they are allied in Brussels. On the left is the old Czech Social Democratic Party (ČSSD), originally founded in Austro-Hungarian Bohemia in 1878 and later a major Czech party during the First Czech Republic. The ČSSD was, unlike most East European parties, re-created in 1989 and thus was not a continuation of the communist party. The ČSSD did move slightly to the right, like almost all its European counterparts, on economic issues, and between 1998 and 2002, Social Democratic Prime Minister Miloš Zeman governed with the ODS’ support and undertook some major economic reforms. The Czech Republic sticks out in another way from its neighbors by the continued strong showing of a totally unreformed and ‘undesired’ communist party, a continuation of the KSČ. The Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia (KSČM), which peaked at 18.5% of the vote in the 2002 elections, is largely unreformed and remains outside of all coalition governments, and has also been often on the verge of banning due to its more radical communist positions. On the right, the Christian democratic KDU–ČSL, also a continuation of a pre-war party, has usually been the third or fourth party, relying on remnants of support for the old ČSL in poorer rural areas in Moravia. There have been two, now three, ephemeral outbursts of other parties, the first was the far-right in 1996 led by the Republicans of Miroslav Sládek (8%), which exploited latent anti-German and anti-Rom sentiments in the industrial areas of Bohemia (which used to be in the Sudetenland). The second came from the more pro-European social liberal centre, namely the Freedom Union, which won 8.6% in 1998 before receding in 2002 to 9 seats through a deal with the KDU–ČSL and completely collapsing in around 2004, in favour of the centre-right Green Party which won 6% in 2006 but has since fallen from peaks of up to 10%.
Perhaps the result of the economic crisis, but also the result of old corruption scandals in both major parties and the poor leadership of both Topolánek and Social Democratic leader Jiří Paroubek, there has been a boom in the fortunes of new, small populistic and ‘alternative’ parties. The largest one is TOP 09, founded by pro-European dissidents of the ODS and the KDU–ČSL’s right-wing, which is led by former Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg. It has gained a lot from Topolánek’s gaffes and incompetence, the most recent incident of which (insulting comments towards Catholics, Jews and homosexuals) forced him to resign in mid-campaign from the ODS’ leadership in favour of Petr Nečas. The second major party is the Public Affairs (VV) outfit, a right-populist party led by Radek John, a former popular investigative journalist, whose support came from John’s popularity as well as VV’s ‘alternative’ and “we’re not crooks” message. A smaller party, the SPOZ, founded by former ČSSD Prime Minister Miloš Zeman (an enemy of Paroubek), has also enjoyed some support.
Here are quasi-final results:
ČSSD 22.08% (-10.24%) winning 56 seats (-18)
ODS 20.22% (-15.79%) winning 53 seats (-28)
TOP 09 16.70% (+16.70%) winning winning 41 seats (+41)
KSČM 11.27% (-1.54%) winning 26 seats (±0)
Public Affairs 10.88% (+10.88%) winning 24 seats (+24)
KDU–ČSL 4.39% (-2.84%) winning 0 seats (-13)
SPOZ 4.33% (+4.33%) winning 0 seats (+0)
Sovereignty – Jana Bobošíková Bloc 3.67% (+3.67%) winning 0 seats (+0)
Green Party 2.44% (-3.85%) winning 0 seats (-6)
The result are an umitigated disaster for three parties: the ČSSD (which polls its worst result since 1996), the ODS (by far its worst result), and the worst result for the KDU–ČSL since the ČSL’s first electoral participation in 1920. All three parties have one thing in common: they’re divided, they’re unpopular, they’re associated with corruption or ‘old politics’ and the first two are the major parties which seem to be so hated this election. The Greens paid dearly their division since 2009, as well as their support of the Topolánek cabinet, and bears the brunt of the ODS’ unpopularity. The KSČM, which, still set in the Stalinist mindset, remains unable to become a durable alternative, and especially not in this election, where those who really desire an alternative are 2006 ODS voters. Radek John’s VV has won an excellent result, and he bears the weight of most of the protest or alternative voting in this election, while TOP 09 attracted many voters disenchanted with the ODS. The good result by Miloš Zeman’s party and the eurosceptic party led by MEP Jana Bobošíková has also attracted significant support, though not enough to enter Parliament. What is most showing of the two major parties’ rout is their combined vote: 42.3% against 67.7% in 2006 – all full 25 points lower than four years ago!
The massive fragmentation of parties after this election makes forming a stable coalition, which is more than a necessity during an economic crisis, much harder. The KSČM will extremely likely remain sidelined. It remains to be seen whether the ODS will ally with its ideological counterparts, TOP 09 and VV, or if one or both of these insurgent parties will ally with the ČSSD. It also remains to be seen what will happen to these parties, who campaigned largely on being the alternative to the ODS and ČSSD, after they enter a coalition as they’re likely to do. A grand coalition between ODS and ČSSD would be great way for both parties to continue on the road to the trash can, a road which they’ve already taken together since 2006. Jiří Paroubek, unexpectedly and surprisingly, was smart enough to read the writing on the wall and took heed of the ČSSD’s awful result and resigned, and commented that a right-leaning coalition was a near certainty. A coalition between ODS, TOP 09 and VV holds 118 seats out of 200, while the right in 2006 (composed of the ODS, KDU-ČSL and Greens) held 100.
The electoral office’s page here offers an easy overview of regional results. The ODS keeps the upper hand around Prague and in central Bohemia, a traditional stronghold of the big agrarian business and agriculture, and formerly a stronghold for the Republican Party of Agrarian and Smallholding Peoples during the First Republic. In Prague, a stronghold of the ODS, the ODS plummeted a full 23.5%, leaving first place to TOP 09. The more affluent and liberal voters of Prague likely preferred the more pro-European TOP 09 to the ODS. Prague is by far TOP 09′s best region with 27.3%, and it generally did well in the same areas where the ODS did well – those more well-off Bohemian area. It didn’t break through in the KDU-ČSL’s Moravian bases, specifically the regions of Jihomoravský and Vysočina, where the KDU-ČSL still managed around 8 and 7% respectively. The ČSSD, on the above map, is clearly on top in Moravia, the poorest region of the two (central Bohemia is the historical centre of the gentry and rural aristocracy) and where old industry has led to high unemployment, and won 29% in the old coal basin of Czech Silesia. The KSČM continues its traditional dominance in both Czech Silesia but also the Bohemian industrial belt in Ústecký. Most of the population in this former industrial basin of the old German Sudetenland was extensively re-settled in 1945 and 1946, notably with a lot of Slovaks or Moravians, and integration has often been hard, sparking resentment and protest which was also expressed with votes for the ephemeral far-right in 1996.
Here is the first post in a series of posts concerning the various Euro results from June 7. The results for the major parties winning seats (or not, in a few cases) are presented here, along with a very brief statistical analysis of what happened. If applicable, a map of the results is also presented. Again, except for the Germany map, all of these maps are my creations.
ÖVP 30% (-2.7%) winning 6 seats (nc)
SPÖ 23.8% (-9.5%) winning 4 seats (-3)
HP Martin’s List 17.7% (+3.7%) winning 3 seats (+1)
FPÖ 12.8% (+6.5%) winning 2 seats (+1)
Greens 9.7% (-3.2%) winning 2 seats (nc)
As I expected, the junior partner in government, the centre-right ÖVP came out on top but the most surprising was the ÖVP’s decisive margin of victory over its senior partner, the social democratic SPÖ. In fact, the SPÖ, like the German SPD, has won its worst result since 1945. This is probably due to a poor campaign a poor top candidate – Hannes Swoboda. Swoboda ranted against job losses and outsourcing when he himself did the same thing to his employees at Siemens. The good result came from Hans-Peter Martin’s anti-corruption outfit, which got a third seat and increased it’s vote. While improving on its poor 2004 result, the far-right FPÖ is far from the 17.5% it won in the 2008 federal elections. A lot is due to abstention (anti-Euro voters being a large contingent of the abstentionists) and also Martin’s success. The Greenies have unsurprisingly fallen, though they held their second seat due to late (and still incoming) postal votes. The BZÖ of the late Jorg Haider fell just short of the threshold, and it did not win Haider’s Carinthian stronghold. Turnout was 45.3%, slightly up on 2004.
GERB 24.36% (+2.68%) winning 5 seats (nc)
BSP 18.5% (-2.91%) winning 4 seats (-1)
DPS 14.14% (-6.12%) winning 3 seats (-1)
Attack 11.96% (-2.24%) winning 2 seats (-1)
NDSV 7.96% (+1.89%) winning 2 seats (+1)
Blue Coalition (UDF and DSB) 7.95% (-1.14%) winning 1 seat (+1)
The pro-European centre-right GERB won, as in 2007, defeating the Socialists (BSP, officialy grouped with smaller parties in the ‘Coalition for Bulgaria’). The Turkish minority party DPS fell significantly compared to its surprisingly excellent 2007 result. This is due to higher turnout and to competition (by Lider) in the very active vote buying market in Bulgaria. The liberal NDSV led by former Bulgarian monarch Simeon II came back from the dead to win 2 seats and increase its vote share – all this due to a top candidate who had a high personal profile and popularity in an election where person and popularity are very important.
Democratic Rally 35.7% (+7.5%) winning 2 seats
AKEL 34.9% (+7%) winning 2 seats
Democratic Party 12.3% (-4.8%) winning 1 seat
Movement for Social Democracy 9.9% (-0.9%) winning 1 seat (+1)
European Party 4.1% (-6.7%) winning 0 seats (-1)
To my surprise, the opposition centre-right (albeit pro-reunification) DISY defeated the governing communist AKEL. However, both parties increased their share of the vote compared to 2004, mainly on the back of the centrist anti-reunification DIKO and the Social Democrats (who won a seat due to the collapse of the liberal European Party).
Civic Democrats (ODS) 31.45% (+1.41%) winning 9 seats (±0)
Social Democrats (ČSSD) 22.38% (+13.6%) winning 7 seats (+5)
Communist Party (KSČM) 14.18% (-6.08%) winning 4 seats (-2)
KDU-ČSL 7.64% (-1.93%) winning 2 seats (±0)
Of the shocking results of the night, the Czech result was a shocker to me. I had predicted the Social Democrats to win all along (most polls agreed, albeit very late polls showed a narrow ODS lead), and you have this very large ODS victory that really comes out of the blue. This is really quite a piss poor result for the ČSSD and its controversial and, in my opinion, poor, leader, Jiří Paroubek. I wasn’t surprised by the results of either the Communists (on a tangent, the KSČM is the only formerly ruling communist party which hasn’t changed it name and it remains very much stuck in 1950) or the Christian Democrats (KDU-ČSL). The KSČM’s loses were predictable because 2004 was an especially fertile year for them (the ČSSD was in government, a very unpopular government). Two small parties which won seats in 2004 – the centre-right SNK European Democrats (11.02% and 2 seats) and the far-right populist Independents (8.18% and 2 seats) suffered a very painful death this year. The SNK polled 1.66%, the Independents (most of which were Libertas candidates) won 0.54%. The Greens, a parliamentary party, won a very deceiving result – 2.06%. This is probably due to turnout, which remained at 28%.
Social Democrats 21.49 % (-11.1%) winning 4 seats (-1)
Venstre 20.24% (+0.9%) winning 3 seats (nc)
Socialist People’s Party 15.87% (+7.9%) winning 2 seats (+1)
Danish People’s Party 15.28% (+8.5%) winning 2 seats (+1)
Conservative People’s Party 12.69% (+1.3%) winning 1 seat (nc)
People’s Movement Against the EU 7.20% (+2.0%) winning 1 seat (nc)
Social Liberal Party 4.27% (-2.1%) winning 0 seats (-1)
June Movement 2.37% (-6.7%) winning 0 seats (-1)
Liberal Alliance 0.59%
Red: SD, Blue: Venstre, Purple: SF, Green: DF
No real surprise in the Danish results, which were as I expected them to be. The Social Democrats drop compared to their superb 2004 showing was to be expected, obviously. Obviously, these loses were profitable not to the government (Venstre, Liberals) but to the Socialists (SF) and the far-right (DF). SF and DF have won their best result in any Danish election, either European or legislative. The June Movement, the second anti-EU movement which is in decline since it’s shock 16% in 1999, has lost its sole remaining MEP. The older (and leftier) People’s Movement has picked up some of the June Movement’s vote, though its results are far from excellent. Despite an electoral alliance with the Social Democrats, the Social Liberals (Radikal Venstre) lost its MEP.
Centre 26.1% winning 2 seats (+1)
Indrek Tarand (Ind) 25.8% winning 1 seat (+1)
Reform 15.3% winning 1 seat (±0)
Union of Pro Patria and Res Publica 12.2% winning 1 seat (±0)
Social Democrats 8.7% winning 1 seat (-2)
Estonian Greens 2.7%
Turnout was up 17% in Estonia over 2004, reaching 44% (26.8% in 2004), correcting the weird result of 2004 which saw the normally weak Social Democrats come out on top. However, the surprising result here was Reform’s rout (compared to the 2007 general elections) at the profit of Indrek Tarand, a popular independent. The opposition Centre Party, however, came out on top. However, the map clearly shows that Tarand took votes from all places – Centre, Reform, right, Greenies (winning a very deceiving 2.7%), and Social Democrats. The Centre came out on top purely due to the Russian vote in Ida-Viru and in Tallinn, the capital (despite the name, the Centre performs very well in urban areas – it’s not at all a rural centrist party a la Finland).
National Coalition 23.2% (-0.5%) winning 3 seats (-1)
Centre 19% (-4.4%) winning 3 seats (-1)
Social Democratic Party 17.5% (-3.7%) winning 2 seats (-1)
Greens 12.4% (+2%) winning 2 seats (+1)
True Finns 9.8% (+9.3%) winning 1 seat (+1)
Swedish People’s Party 6.1% (+0.4%) winning 1 seat (nc)
Left Alliance 5.9% (-3.2%) winning 0 seats (-1)
Christian Democrats 4.2% (-0.1%) winning 1 seat (+1)
No surprises from Finland, which came out roughly as expected. The junior partner in government, the centre-right National Coalition (Kok) defeated its senior partner, the agrarian liberal Centre Party. However, the Finnish left (SDP and Left) suffered a very cold shower, winning its worst result in years. The Left even lost its sole MEP. A lot of that left-wing vote probably went to the Greenies (who won a very good result) and also the anti-immigration True Finns (in coalition with the Christian Democrats, which allowed the Christiandems to get one MEP). The Swedish People’s Party ended up holding its seat. The map is quite typical of Finnish elections, with the agrarian Centre dominating in the sparsely populated north and the National Coalition dominating in middle-class urban (Helsinki, where they narrowly beat out the Greenies for first) and suburban areas. The Swedish vote is concentrated on the Åland islands (over 80% of the vote for them) but also in small fishing communities on the west coast of Finland (which does not show up on the map).
CDU/CSU 30.7% + 7.2% (-6.6%) winning 42 seats (-7)
SPD 20.8% (-0.7%) winning 23 seats (nc)
Greens 12.1% (+0.2%) winning 14 seats (+1)
Free Democrats 11% (+4.9%) winning 12 seats (+5)
The Left 7.6% (+1.5%) winning 8 seats (+1)
In the EU’s most populated country, the Social Democrats took a major hit by failing to gain anything after the SPD’s horrible (worst since 1945) result in 2004. Overall, the Christian Democrats (CDU) of Chancellor Angela Merkel and its Bavarian sister, the CSU, won as in 2004 but their vote also took a hit (the CDU/CSU was a popular opposition party then, they’re the senior government party now). The winners were of course the Greens, who held on to their remarkable 2004 result and in fact gained a 14th MEP, but certainly the right-liberal Free Democrats (FDP). The Left also gained slightly compared to 2004. The Left’s map remains largely a map of the old DDR but, for the first time, you have darker shades appearing in the West – specifically in the industrial regions of the Saar, the Ruhr and Bremen city. In the end the CSU had no problems with the 5% threshold and they won a relatively decent (compared to most recent results, not 2004 or 2006) result – 48% – in Bavaria. Frei Wahler took 6.7% in Bavaria, and 1.7% federally.
PASOK 36.64% (+2.61%) winning 8 seats (nc)
New Democracy 32.29% (-10.72%) winning 8 seats (-3)
Communist Party 8.35% (-1.13%) winning 2 seats (-1)
Popular Orthodox Rally 7.14% (+3.02%) winning 2 seats (+1)
Coalition of the Radical Left 4.7% (+0.54%) winning 1 seat (nc)
Ecologist Greens 3.49% (+2.88%) winning 1 seat (+1)
Pan-Hellenic Macedonian Front 1.27%
No Greek surprise overall, though the Greenies’ poor result could be one. As expected, the opposition ‘socialist’ PASOK defeated the governing unpopular and corrupt right-wing New Democracy. However, there remains no great love for PASOK, partly due to the fact that both ND and PASOK are very similar. The Communist Party (KKE), one of Europe’s most communist communist parties (it still lives in 1951, decrying bourgeois and capitalists), won 8.35%, slightly above its 2007 electoral result but below the KKE’s excellent 2004 result (over 9%). The surprise came from LAOS and the Greens. The Greenies, who were polling 8-11% in the last polls, fell to a mere 3% partly due to a controversial video by the Green Party leader who said that Macedonia (FYROM, the country) should be allowed to keep its name (s0mething which does not go down well in Greece). Most of the Green strength in polls came from disenchanted ND supporters who ended up voting LAOS (the ultra-Orthodox kooks). The Radical Left (SYRIZA) won a rather poor result, probably due to the fact that it is seen as responsible for the violence and lootings during the 2008 riots in Athens.
Fidesz 56.36% winning 14 seats (+2)
Socialist 17.37% winning 4 seats (-5)
Jobbik 14.77% winning 3 seats (+3)
Hungarian Democratic Forum 5.31% winning 1 seat (nc)
The surprise in Hungary came from the spectacular result of the far-right quasi-Nazi Jobbik (which has its own private militia), which did much better than any poll or exit poll had predicted. Jobbik’s results significantly weakened the conservative Fidesz which won “only” 56% (down from 65-70% in some polls). The governing Socialist MSZP took a spectacular thumping, as was widely expected. While the right-wing MDF held its seat, the liberal SZDSZ (f0rmer coalition partner in the MSZP-led government until 2008) lost both of its seats.
Fine Gael 29.1% (+1.3%) winning 4 seats (-1)
Fianna Fáil 24.1% (-5.4%) winning 3 seats (-1)
Labour 13.9% (+3.4%) winning 3 seats (+2)
Sinn Féin 11.2% (+0.1%) winning 0 seats (-1)
Libertas 3.1% (new) winning 0 seats (new)
Socialist 1.5% (+0.2%) winning 1 seat (+1)
Green Party 1.1% (-3.2%)
As expected, Fine Gael came out on top of FPVs in Ireland, inflicting a major defeat on the governing Fianna Fáil. Fianna Fáil, did not, however, slip to third behind Labour as some pollsters made it seem. This is due in a large part due to Labour’s complete lack of organization in most rural areas. In Dublin, both Fine Gael and Labour incumbents made it through without much sweat. The race, as expected, was for the third seat between the Fianna Fáil incumbent (Eoin Ryan), Socialist leader Joe Higgins and the Sinn Féin incumbent (Mary Lou McDonald). Surprisingly, Sinn Féin was the first out leaving the final seat between Ryan and Higgins. In the end, Higgins got the quasi-entirety of McDonald’s transferable votes and defeated Ryan with 82,366 votes against 76,956 votes for Ryan on the 7th count. Former Greenie (against the party’s participation in government) Patricia McKenna won 4.3% on first preferences against 4.7% against the official Greenie (however, further transfers from joke candidates got McKenna all the way to count 5, while the Greenie got out by count 3). In the East, Fine Gael’s Mairead McGuinness got elected on the first count, quite the feat indeed. However, no luck for Fine Gael’s second candidate in holding the third seat held by a retiring Fine Gael incumbent. Labour’s Nessa Childers, second on first prefs, far outpolled John Paul Phelan (FG’s second candidate) and got the second seat. Fianna Fáil held its seat. In the North-West, all incumbents (1 Independent ALDE, 1 FF, 1 FG) held their seats with Marian Harkin (Ind-ALDE) topping the poll (however, both Fianna Fáil candidates combined outpolled him and Fine Gael’s MEP). The founder and leader of Libertas, Declan Ganley polled a respectable 13.66% on FPVs and held out till the last count but lost out to Fine Gael due to rather poor transfers from the other anti-Lisbon outfit, SF. In the South, FF incumbent Brian Crowley topped the poll and won easily, as did Sean Kelly (FG). The third seat was between the incumbent Independent (eurosceptic and social conservative) Kathy Sinnott and Labour’s Alan Kelly. Kelly won.
In the local elections, the final seat share is as follows:
Fine Gael 340 seats (+47)
Fianna Fáil 218 seats (-84)
Labour 132 seats (+31)
Others and Indies 132 seats (+40)
Sinn Féin 54 seats (nc)
Socialist 4 seats (nc)
Green Party 3 seats (-15)
People of Freedom 35.26% winning 29 seats
Democratic Party 26.13% winning 21 seats
Lega Nord 10.20% winning 9 seats
Italy of Values 8.00% winning 7 seats
Union of the Centre 6.51% winning 5 seats
Communists (PRC+PdCI) 3.38% winning 0 seats
Sinistra e Libertà 3.12% winning 0 seats
Italian Radicals (Bonino-Pannella List) 2.42% winning 0 seats
Pole of Autonomy (La Destra+MPA) 2.22% winning 0 seats
South Tyrolean’s People Party 0.46% winning 1 seat
Berlusconi Coalition (PdL+LN+Autonomy) 47.68% winning 38 seats
PD Coalition (PD-SVP+IdV+Radicals) 37.01% winning 29 seats
Red: PD, Blue: PdL, Green: Lega Nord, Yellow in Aosta Valley: Valdotanian Union (PdL ally), Yellow in Sudtirol: SVP (PD ally)
The Italian results were certainly a setback for Silvio Berlusconi and his “party”, the PdL, which performed a bit lower than what he and polls had expected (38-41% range). The centre-left PD did relatively well, and this will atleast keep the party from splitting up into the old Democrats of the Left and the Daisy. In terms of coalitions, the two large parliamentary blocs stand almost exactly where they stood overall in 2008, with a very very slight improvement for Berlusconi’s coalition. The marking result of this election is probably that of Lega Nord, which has won its best result in any national Italian election (narrowly beating its previous record, 10.1% in the 1996 general election). The Lega has expanded its support to the “south” (north-central Italy), notably polling 11% in Emilia-Romagna and 4% in Tuscany. The support and future of Lega Nord is to be watched closely in the future, due to a potential new electoral law which could significantly hinder it’s parliamentary representation (more on that later). The other good result is from Antonio di Pietro’s strongly anti-Berlusconi and anti-corruption populist Italia dei Valori, which has won its best result ever, by far. It has almost doubled its support since last year’s general election. After being shutout of Parliament in 2008, the Communists and other leftie parties (Socialists and Greens) are now out of the European Parliament, depsite improving quite a bit on the Rainbow’s 2008 result. Of the two coalitions, the old Communist one made up of the Refoundation Commies and the smaller Italian Commies polled slightly better than the Sinistra e libertà, the “New Left” coalition (Greenies, Socialists, moderate “liberal” Commies). Such was to be expected, but the irony is that both leftie coalitions were formed to surpass the new 4% threshold, and none did. However, if there had been a new Rainbow coalition (the 2008 Rainbow included both the hardline Commies and the New Left), they would have made it. As expected, those small parties which won seats in 2004 due to the old electoral law have been eliminated. These include the fascists, La Destra-Sicilian autonomists/crooks, and the Radicals. The South Tyrolean SVP only held its seat due to an electoral clause which allows these “minority parties” to ally with a party to win a seat. The SVP was the only one of these which was successful in doing so. Two smaller Valdotanian parties (one allied with PdL, the other with IdV) failed to win a seat. In provincial elections held the same days, the right was very successful and of the forty provinces decided by the first round, they had won 26 against 14 for the left. 22 provinces will have a runoff. I might do a post on that if I have time.
Civic Union 24.33% winning 2 seats (+2)
Harmony Centre 19.57% winning 2 seats (+2)
PCTVL – For Human Rights in United Latvia 9.66% winning 1 seat (nc)
Latvia’s First Party/Latvia’s Way 7.5% winning 1 seat (nc)
For Fatherland and Freedom/LNNK 7.45% winning 1 seat (-3)
New Era 6.66% winning 1 seat (-1)
Latvian politics are very confusing, mostly due to the huge swings. This time was no different. A new party, Civic Union (probably EPP) topped the poll over the Harmony Centre, a Russian minority outfit. The PCTVL, another Russian outfit, fell slightly compared to its 11% result in 2004, but remained remarkably stable. TB/LNNK, a UEN party which topped the poll in 2004 fell down three seats. The conservative New Era, senior party in the governing coalition, won only 7% (a lot of its members, along with TB/LNNK members apparently joined the Civic Union). The People’s Party, the senior party in the old coalition which fell apart this year due to the economic crisis won barely 2%. The Union of Greens and Farmers, which won something like 16% in the 2006 election polled a mere 3.7%.
Homeland Union-LKD 26.16% winning 4 seats (+2)
Lithuanian Social Democrats 18.12% winning 3 seats (+1)
Order and Justice 11.9% winning 2 seats (+1)
Labour Party 8.56% winning 1 seat (-4)
Poles’ Electoral Action 8.21% winning 1 seat (+1)
Liberals Movement 7.17% winning 1 seat (+1)
Liberal and Centre Union 3.38% winning 0 seats (-1)
Remarkable stability for a Baltic nation in Lithuania. The winner of the 2008 election, the Homeland Union (TS-LKD) won a rather convincing victory, improving on its 2008 result (only 19.6%) and obviously on its 2004 Euro result (12.6%). The LSDP has picked up an extra seat and has cemented its place as the opposition to the TS-LKD, along with the third-placed populist Order and Justice. Labour, the centrist party which won the 2004 Euro election has seen its seat share cut down from 5 to one, a logical follow-up to its collapse in 2008. The Poles have probably benefited from low turnout (21%) to motivate their base and won an outstanding 8.2% and elected one MEP. I don’t really follow Baltic politics, but if I remember correctly, a government rarely wins re-election, so if that’s true, the result of the TS-LKD is even more remarkable.
Christian Social Party 31.3% (-5.8%) winning 3 seats
Socialist 19.5% (-2.5%) winning 1 seat
Democratic Party 18.6% (+3.7%) winning 1 seat
The Greens 16.8% (+1.8%) winning 1 seat
Alternative Democratic Reform 7.4% (-0.6%)
The Left 3.4% (+1.7%)
Communist Party 1.5% (+0.3%)
Citizens’ List 1.4%
Remarkable and unsurprising political stability in Luxembourg, with no changes in seat distribution. While the CSV and LSAP suffer minor swings against them, the DP and Greens get small positive swings. The Greens’ result is their best ever and one of the best Green results in European elections.
On election night last week, I also covered the simultaneous general election. Here are, again, the full results.
CSV 38% (+1.9%) winning 26 seats (+2)
LSAP 21.6% (-1.8%) winning 13 seats (-1)
DP 15% (-1.1%) winning 9 seats (-1)
Greens 11.7% (+0.1%) winning 7 seats (nc)
ADR 8.1% (-1.8%) winning 4 seats (-1)
Left 3.3% (+1.4%) winning 1 seat (+1)
KPL 1.5% (+0.6%)
Labour 54.77% winning 3 seats (nc)
Nationalist 40.49% winning 2 seats (nc)
Obviously no surprise in tiny Malta, where the opposition Labour Party has defeated the governing Nationalist Party. Both sides made gains in terms of votes, feeding off the collapse of the green Democratic Alternative (AD), which won a remarkable 10% in 2004 but a mere 2.3% this year.
Civic Platform 44.43% (+20.33%) winning 25 seats (+10)
Law and Justice 27.4% (+14.73%) winning 15 seats (+8)
Democratic Left Alliance-Labour Union 12.34% (+2.99%) winning 7 seats (+2)
Peasant Party 7.07% (+0.67%) winning 3 seats (-1)
Map by electoral constituency. Key same as above table
Polish politics move quickly, but it seems that this ‘setup’ is here to stay, atleast for some time. The governing right-liberal pro-European Civic Platform (led by PM Donald Tusk) has won a crushing victory over the national-conservative eurosceptic Law and Justice of President Lech Kaczyński. PO’s margin of victory is slightly larger than its already important victory in the 2008 elections. The SLD-UP electoral alliance, which is what remains of the Left and Democrats (LiD) coalition of the 2008 election (encompassing SLD-UP but also a small fake liberal party), won 12%, the average result of the Polish left these days. The Peasant Party, PO’s junior partner in government, won slightly fewer votes than in 2008 (or the 2004 Eur0s). The 2004 Euros, marked by the excellent result of the ultra-conservative League of Polish Families (LPR, now Libertas) and the left-wing populist Samoobrona saw both of these parties collapse. Libertas-LPR won 1.14% and Samoobrona won 1.46%. Smaller ultra-conservative jokes also did very poorly. After the 2004-2006 episode, sanity seems to have returned to Polish politics.
Social Democratic Party 31.7% winning 8 seats (+1)
Socialist Party 26.6% winning 7 seats (-5)
Left Bloc 10.7% winning 3 seats (+2)
CDU: Communist Party-Greens 10.7% winning 2 seats (nc)
Democratic and Social Centre-People’s Party 8.4% winning 2 seats (nc)
Blue: PSD, Red: PS, Green: CDU (PCP-PEV)
Cold shower for the governing Portuguese Socialists after the huge victory of the 2004 Euros. The centre-right PSD has won a major victory by defeating the PS, albeit a relatively small margin between the two. The lost votes of the PS flowed to the Left Bloc (the Trotskyst and more libertarian component of the far-left) and the CDU (the older and more old-style communist component of the far-left), both of which won a remarkable 21.4% together. These voters voted BE or CDU due to the PS’ economic policies, which are far from traditional left-wing economic policies. The PS will need to fight hard, very hard, to win the upcoming general elections in September.
Social Democratic Party+Conservative Party 31.07% winning 11 seats (+1)
Democratic Liberal Party 29.71% winning 10 seats (-6)
National Liberal Party 14.52% winning 5 seats (-1)
UDMR 8.92% winning 3 seats (+1)
Greater Romania Party 8.65% winning 3 seats (+3)
Elena Băsescu (Ind PD-L) 4.22% winning 1 seat (+1)
The close race in Romania between the two government parties ended in the victory of the junior partner, the PSD with a rather mediocre 31%. The PDL’s 30% was also rather mediocre. The PNL also did quite poorly. The two winners are the Hungarian UDMR, which won a rather remarkable 9%, probably benefiting from high Hungarian turnout in a very low turnout election. The far-right Greater Romania Party overcame past setbacks and won three seats and a surprisingly good 8.7%. This is due in part to the participation of the far-right quasi-fascist PNG-CD on its list (the party’s leader, the very controversial Gigi Becali, was the party’s second candidate on the list). László Tőkés, an Hungarian independent elected in 2007 (sat in the Green-EFA group) has been re-elected as the top candidate on the UDMR list.
Smer-SD 32.01% winning 5 seats (+2)
Slovak Democratic and Christian Union–Democratic Party (SDKÚ-DS) 16.98% winning 2 seats (-1)
Party of the Hungarian Coalition 11.33% winning 2 seats (±0)
Christian Democratic Movement 10.87% winning 2 seats (-1)
People’s Party–Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (ĽS-HZDS) 8.97% winning 1 seat (-2)
Slovak National Party 5.55% winning 1 seat (+1)
Smer’s result is definitely deceiving for them and possibly a sign that their past stellar poll ratings will slide to the benefit of the opposition SDKÚ-DS. However, the SDKÚ-DS (but also the KDH and obviously the ĽS-HZDS) have slid back compared to their 2004 Euro results. While the collapse of the ĽS-HZDS (formerly led by former quasi-dictator Vladimír Mečiar) is good news, the entry of the quasi-fascist Slovak National Party, Smer’s charming coalition partners, is not. However, the SNS’ 5.6% is not the 10% it used to poll and hopefully they stay low.
Slovenian Democratic Party 26.89% winning 2 seats (nc)
Social Democrats 18.48% winning 2 seats (+1)
New Slovenia 16.34% winning 1 seat (-1)
Liberal Democracy 11.52% winning 1 seat (-1)
Zares 9.81% winning 1 seat (+1)
In Slovenia, the oppostion centre-right SDS has defeated the ruling Social Democrats. Here again, the current political setup between SDS on the right and SD on the left, a rather new setup, seems set to stay for a few years. The NSi, which won the 2004 election, and the LDS, which used to dominate Slovenian politics, have both slumped back. The new liberal Zares won 9.8%, roughly its level in the 2008 election.
People’s Party42.23% (+1.02%) winning 23 seats (-1)
Socialist 38.51% (-4.95%) winning 21 seats (-4)
Coalition for Europe (EAJ-CiU-CC) 5.12% (-0.03%) winning 2 seats [1 EAJ, 1 CiU] (±0)
The Left 3.73% (-0.38%) winning 2 seats (±0)
Union, Progress and Democracy 2.87% winning 1 seat (+1)
Europe of Peoples 2.5% (+0.05%) winning 1 seat (±0)
As expected, the conservative PP defeated the governing PSOE, but due to the polarized nature of Spanish politics, no landslide here. However, the PSOE definitely polled poorly, though the PP didn’t do that great either. The regionalists held their ground well, and CiU got some little gains going in Catalonia. Aside from UPyD’s narrow entry and the obvious PP gains, it was generally status-quo.
Social Democrats 24.41% (-0.15%) winning 5 seats (nc)
Moderate Party 18.83% (+0.58%) winning 4 seats (nc)
Liberal People’s Party 13.58% (+3.72%) winning 3 seats (+1)
Greens 11.02% (+5.06%) winning 2 seats (+1)
Pirate Party 7.13% (new) winning 1 seat (+1)
Left 5.66% (-7.14%) winning 1 seat (-1)
Centre 5.47% (-0.79%) winning 1 seat (nc)
Christian Democrats 4.68% (-1.01%) winning 1 seat (nc)
June List 3.55% (-10.92%) winning 0 seats (-3)
Sweden Democrats 3.27% (+2.14%)
Feminist Initiative 2.22%
First map: Parties (SD in red, M in blue) – Second Map: Coalitions (Red-Green in red, Alliance in blue)
The Swedish results must come as a major deception for both major parties, the Social Democrats and the governing Moderates. Both had done horribly in 2004 and the 2009 results are no improvements for either of them. In fact, the opposition SD has in fact dropped a few votes more from the 2004 disaster. These loses profit to the smaller parties in their respective coalitions (Red-Green for the SD, Alliance for M). The Liberals did very well, unexpectedly well in fact, and elected a third MEP. The Greens drew votes from Red-Green voters dissatisfied by the unpopular SD leader, Mona Sahlin, and its vote share increased by 5%. Of course, Sweden is now famous for electing one Pirate MEP, and even a second MEP if Sweden gets additional MEPs as planned by the Treaty of Lisbon. The Left’s vote fell significantly from its good showing in 2004, while the vote for smaller coalition parties – the Centre and Christian Democrats also slid a bit. The eurosceptic June List, which had won 14% in 2004, fell to a mere 3.6% and lost its 3 MEPs. However, this result might have prevented the far-right Sweden Democrats from picking up a seat. The Feminists, who had one MEP after a Liberal defection, won a surprisingly decent 2%, far better than what polls had in store for them. In terms of coalitions, the governing Alliance actually won with 42.56% against 41.09% for the opposition Red-Greens.
Longer, special posts concerning the Euro elections in Belgium, France and the UK will be posted in the coming days.