Prague - Czech social democrats (ČSSD) have lost about one thousand mandates in the local elections, held on 10th and 11th, on behalf of the ANO 2011 political movement of the finance minister Andrej Babiš. In the big cities, the christian democrats (KDU-ČSL) celebrated a comeback.
ANO won in nine from thirteen regional capitals, and Babiš expressed his satisfaction that the movement has definitely established itself on the political scene in the country. On the contrary, the social democrats who have achieved a similar result four years ago couldn’t win in either of the regional capitals and lost a lot of their counsellor mandates.
The party head Bohuslav Sobotka had to admit that the results are disappointing for the ČSSD.
"It is true that the results fall short of our expectations," Sobotka said. "But our mayors in the district-level towns have been successful."
Especially palpable have been the losses for the social democrats in the Moravian towns of Brno and Ostrava and in Ústí nad Labem in North-Western Bohemia where ANO was the winner of the election. The movement of Babiš has won in Prague as well, although it has changed the leader of the candidates‘ list several times during the election campaign.
"Together with other independent civic movements, we have gained one third of the counsellor mandates," Babiš commented on the election results. "I think that it is a great success. The Czech political scene is changing fundamentally after twenty five years of traditional political parties‘ rule."
His movement that has not yet existed four years ago when the last local elections were held, has gained 1600 mandates.
It is essentially less than the 3800 mandates the social democrats have gained now, but for the ČSSD it represents a big loss because, in comparison to the last election, they have to give up almost one thousand mandates.
"Sometimes, it is more difficult to maintain the mandates than gain the new ones," Sobotka stressed.
The ANO has won, although it had presented less than a half of candidates in the elections.
The christian democrats belong to the election winners as well. They were able to assert almost in all of their 3900 mandates and to gain the new ones in the town halls of several big cities like Plzeň (Western Bohemia), České Budějovice (Southern Bohemia) and Ostrava (Northern Moravia).
In general, the parties of the new coalition government could have confirmed their position which Sobotka, Babiš and KDU-ČSL‘s head Pavel Bělobrádek consider a signal that the voters are satisfied with the work of the cabinet.
For the opposition, the election represents a disaster. The ODS, the party of the former president and ex-prime minister Václav Klaus, lost some three thousand mandates and it has to leave, for example, the city halls in Zlín (Southern Moravia) or Chomutov (North-Western Bohemia).
The TOP 09 party of the former foreign minister Karel Schwarzenberg has lost one third of its mandates as well as the post of the Prague mayor where the party had celebrated a victory in 2010.
The absolute winners of the election are the independent candidates who have gained some 41 400 mandates and, in comparison to 2010, have strengthened their position.