Fraud scandal overshadows Czech local elections
16. 10. 2010 21:00
Roma people and seniors allegedly paid to vote for certain parties
North Bohemia - Twenty years after the fall of the notoriously corrupt Communist regime, the Czech Republic has to face the uncomfortable fact that electoral fraud is far from being a thing that belong only to the country´s Communist past or international news sections.
In the Czech municipal elections held on Friday 15 and Saturday 16 October 2010, several parties were accused of bribing members of socially weak or excluded groups - above all Roma and seniors - into voting for them.
In some cases, these parties won the polls in the districts in question. Most of the alleged frauds were committed in Northern Bohemia, the poorest part of the Czech Republic with many excluded Roma communities.
Shortly after the polling stations in the Czech Republic opened at 2PM on Friday 15 October, police had to come to Krupka, a municipality of approximately 14,000 inhabitants in Northern Bohemia, in order to verify an allegation that somebody promised to local Roma people CZK 300 (EUR 12) for everyone voting for the minor Czech National Social Party (CSNS). Two representatives of other political parties and one member of the polling commission said that those who were organizing the fraud even brought the Roma to the polling station in cars.
On Saturday 16 October, an Aktualne.cz reporter saw and took photos of two people being escorted to the polling station and paid for voting for the CSNS in Krupka.
Most importantly, the CSNS received 44 percent of the votes cast in Krupka. The Civic Democratic Party, the largest member of the government, ended the second with 11 percent. Also, the voters´ turnout was significantly higher than in the last local elections in 2006.
Northern Bohemia prone to electoral fraud
Similar accusations were made in other municipalities, most of them in Northern Bohemia.
In Předlice, a poor and socially excluded district in Usti nad Labem, Northern Bohemia, more than 50 percent of the votes cast here were for the Severočeši.cz party, with all the other parties receiving incomparably smaller portions of the votes. Socially weak voters were allegedly paid by Martin Berger, an ex-member of the Social Democracy, the largest opposition party.
In addition, the Social Democrats themselves allegedly tried to bribe voters in Roudnice nad Labem, Northern Bohemia. Aktualne.cz has learned that the reward was between CZK 300 and 1000 (EUR 12-40). Social Democratic leader Bohuslav Sobotka said that if these allegations will prove true, those responsible will have to leave the party.
Electoral frauds were reported also in the Bilina, Jirkov and Kadan municipalities - all in North Bohemia.