Prague - The Czech Social Democracy received 22 percent of the votes cast in the legislative election, more than any other party.
However, the 200-seat Lower Chamber will be dominated by right-wing and centrist parties controlling 118 seats, and the Social Democracy is in fact the election's main loser, as it will be practically impossible for the party to form a strong government with stable parliamentary support.
Votes and seats
- Social Democratic Party: 22.1 %, 56 seats
- Civic Democratic Party: 20.2 %, 53 seats
- TOP 09: 16.7 %, 41 seats
- Communists: 11.3 %, 26 seats
- Public Affairs: 10.9 %, 24 seats
The Communists have 11 percent, and together with the Social Democracy they would control the remaining 82 seats.
The election result is thus seen as a defeat by the Social Democrats and the party's leader Jiří Paroubek has already announced his resignation.
The right-wing Civic Democratic Party (ODS), the Social Democrats' main rival, has 20 percent, the conservative TOP 09, a possible coalition partner for the ODS, has 16.5 percent.
The fifth party in the Lower Chamber is the Public Affairs, a somehow centrist party with strong populist tendencies, with 11 percent.
Winning a battle, losing the war
A center-right coalition of the ODS, TOP 09 and Public Affairs would control a comfortable majority of 118 seats. This seems to be the only feasible coalition, given the strong left-right polarization and mutual hostility.
The paradox that the winner has little chance to form a stable government is of great importance, because the Czech president traditionally authorizes the leader of the winning party to (try to) form the government. Petr Nečas, the head of the Civic Democratic Party which is in a much better position to form a stable government, has already said that President Václav Klaus should go by the book.
Crisis of the left, the big, the old
Weak results of the Communists and the Social Democracy were determined by lower turnout in traditionally left-wing regions such as Ústí nad Labem, Ostrava or Karlovy Vary. Also, many left-leaning voters have apparently preferred two minor left-wing parties that are approaching the 5 percent election threshold.
However, the election can be seen as a defeat of the parliamentary parties in general. The results of both the Social Democrats and ODS, the Czech Republic's largest parties, are surprisingly low, while the Greens and the Christian Democrats did not manage to surpass the 5 percent threshold. The leaders of both parties have already resigned.
The Lower Chamber will host two new faces: the conservative TOP 09 and Public Affairs.
The voter turnout is 62.5 percent.
Shortly after the polling stations closed at 2 PM (12 GMT), the Czech Television published an exit poll that suggested that the ODS and Social Democrats would equally have 20 percent.
Read more: Czech election: Stalemate. Main rivals tied at 20 pct