Thai turmoil might decide Czech election stalemate

Veronika Suchá
26. 5. 2010 17:34
Access to polling station in Bangkok might be restricted. In 2002, expats' votes caused stalemate
A butterfly flaps its wings in Thailand...
A butterfly flaps its wings in Thailand... | Foto: Reuters

Prague - What possible link there is between the ongoing political turmoil in Thailand and the Czech legislative election to be held on 28 and 29 May?

There is a possibility that the unrest will make it difficult for Czech expats and tourists in Thailand to participate in the election, as the Czech embassy and polling station is located in the part of Bangkok that was, until recently, closed to the public out of security reasons.

In the 2006 election, the votes cast by Czechs living abroad determined the resulting stalemate.

Read more: Cliffhanger Czech election heading for another deadlock

Thus, the question whether Czechs in Thailand will be able to vote is of great importance. 

„Fortunately, the situation is better now, there is only an overnight curfew imposed. However, we appeal to the citizens that they watch the situation closely, because it can change," the Foreign Affairs Ministry's spokesman Filip Kanda said to Aktuálně.cz.

There is a possibility that on Friday 28 May, the polling station in Bangkok will be closed at 9 PM when the curfew begins. However, all other polling stations, in the Czech Republic or abroad, will be open until 10 PM.

Read more: Czech election drama: Million voters still up for grabs

Only a few tens of Czechs will vote in Thailand. So far, 21 voters have registered with the embassy in Bangkok. Others, above all tourists, can vote using their voter's certificate.

„Most tourists are on islands and beaches far away from Bangkok, so they do not want to make such a long trip to vote," Kanda pointed out.

So far, roughly 6 thousand Czechs are registered to vote outside the country. As in the previous elections, their votes will be included into the election results of the South Bohemian Region.

2006 stalemate caused by expats

In the 2006 elections, votes cast abroad caused the eventual stalemate. These votes were the last ones to be included in the counting. Before they were included, the left wing parties were controlling 101 seats out of 200-seat parliament. However, more than 50 percent of the voters abroad voted for the right-wing ODS, and the party gained one more seat.

It is estimated that roughly 70 thousand Czechs are living abroad. This means that approximately one of ten uses their right to vote.

Expensive election

The election campaign that is culminating these days is most likely the most expensive of all election campaigns ever held in the Czech Republic. It is partially because the election was originally scheduled to be held in October 2009, however it was eventually annulled by the Constitutional Court and some politicians.

Both major political parties of the Czech Republic, the Social Democrats and the Civic Democratic Party, admitted to have lost CZK 150 and 100 million respectively (EUR 6 and 4 million) in worthless election campaigning.

This also means that the current campaign is the longest, as the parties started it almost a year ago.

The October 2009 election that did not take place cost the state CZK 115 million (EUR 4.6 million).

According to the Finance Ministry, the upcoming election will cost the Treasury CZK 1,056 million (EUR 42 million).


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