Czech Republic PM”s party wins big in regional ballot amid pandemic.
Prime Minister Andrej Babiš’s ANO party, as expected, has won the regional assembly elections that ended on Saturday afternoon, capturing over 22 percent of the vote overall and placing first in 10 of 13 contests, according to unofficial results. A third of the seats in the Senate, 27 in total, were also being contested; nearly all will be decided by a second (run-off) round of voting next weekend.
Prague, regional ballot this weekend about a year before general elections is an important measure of voter support.
The results appear to signal confidence in the government’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic, despite a recent uptick, and its plan to weather the economic fallout.
In the regional contests, the opposition Pirate Party placed second overall, with about 12 percent of the vote. The centre-left Social Democrats (ČSSD) – ANO’s junior government coalition partner – garnered less than 5 percent of the vote, as did the unreformed Communist Party (KSČM), which have tolerated Babiš’s government in exchange for policy concessions.
Czech Statistics Office said that with ballots from almost 100% of polling stations counted, the ANO (YES) movement led by Prime Minister Andrej Babis won 10 of the 13 regions contested during voting on Friday and Saturday. The result was a sign of a stable support for ANO, which won nine regions in 2016. ANO also has the most candidates advancing to the runoffs for 27 seats in the 81-seat Senate.
The elections were the first held in the Czech Republic during the coronavirus pandemic. Face masks were required at voting places. Quarantined voters had the option of casting ballots from vehicles at temporary polling stations across the country. Those who were unable to use a car or venture out could ask a special electoral committee to send a ballot box to their homes.