Fatal floods halt election campaign in Czech Republic

19. 5. 2010 10:07
North-Eastern parts of the Czech Republic hit by heavy rains, inundations
Foto: Jiří Kalus

Prague, Ostrava - Since Sunday 16 May, the north-eastern part of the Czech Republic is struggling with floods caused by heavy raining. At least two people are known to have lost their lives. There are closed roads, municipalities without electricity or heat, and also households resisting evacuation out of fear of looting.

Neighboring Poland and Slovakia are hit by floods too, and have already reported deaths.

One of the flooded municipalities is Troubky, a symbol of the devastating inundations from 1997, when nine inhabitants of the village of 2,000 people died.

This is the second flood to devastate Northern Moravia in less then 12 months.

Read more: Heavy flooding kills 13, damages worth billions of crowns

Elections ahead

Less than two weeks before the general elections to be held on 28 and 29 May, the flood forced Czech politicians to make some hasty changes in electoral campaigns in the affected regions, above all Northern Moravia and Silesia.

The Social Democratic Party (ČSSD), a likely winner of the elections according to opinion polls,  promised CZK 1.2 mil (EUR 48 thousand) it saved by canceling its election rallies. The party leader Jiří Paroubek said that the sum will be used to „repair the damage, provide the people with emergency shelter, and reconstruct damaged houses". 

The chief rival of the ČSSD, the right-wing Civic Democratic Party (ODS) has promised financial support too, in addition it offers the manpower of its Blue Teams, groups of ODS supporters that help the party with promotion and election rallies. 

The smaller Public Affairs party has send volunteers too.

Read more: Cliffhanger Czech election heading for another deadlock

Interior Minister Martin Pecina, who runs in the elections for the Social Democrats, went to Ostrava, Northern Moravia to attend a special meeting of the government's crisis management body and to see the situation for himself.

The ODS was the first to officially halt its election campaign in Northern Moravia. „Among our candidates are mayors and vice-mayors who are members of crisis management teams. We asked them to let the campaign go so they can work in their cities. Nobody is interested in the campaign," Aktuálně.cz was told by Pavel Drobil, whose name comes first on the Civic Democratic ballot in the Moravia-Silesia region.

Leader of the ODS Petr Nečas left the capital for his hometown Rožnov pod Radhoštěm, where he lives with his family. „As an inhabitant of Rožnov pod Radhoštěm and a native to Uherské Hradiště, I feel a necessity to help the region and all my relatives who have found themselves in a hard situation," Nečas explained.

The Social Democrats too discussed the possibility of stopping their campaign. „I asked the People's House (the seat of the party) to modify it (the campaign). We are not going to have rallies in the zones where people have troubles with the flood," said the Social Democratic head of the South Moravian Region Michal Hašek. Hašek also suggested to the election team of the Social Democrats that they provide the affected areas with financial or other aid.

However, both the ODS and Social Democrats assured that they do not want to meddle in the rescue works.

Also, both parties have started their own donation drives among their members.


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