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Social Democrats (CSSD) gain most votes

The ruling Social Democrats (CSSD) gained the most votes in the general election held on 14-Jun-02 to 15-Jun-02 with 30.2% of the vote, giving it 70 seats in the 200-seat Chamber of Deputies, a loss of four seats from the previous election. The opposition Civic Democrats (ODS) gained 24.5% of the vote, gaining 58 seats, 5 fewer than previously. The surprise of this year's election was the performance of the Communists (KSCM) who were supported by 18.5% of voters and will have 41 seats in the lower house, a gain of 17. The biggest loss was suffered by the Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL) and the Freedom Union-DEU, who formed the Coalition. They received 14.3% of the vote and will have 31 seats, a loss of 8. None of the other parties contesting the election passed the necessary 5% threshold to gain seats. Analysts attribute the losses to the right-orientated parties to a markedly lower turnout, just 58%, against 74% four years ago.

President Vaclav Havel held separate meetings, on 16-Jun-02, with CSSD leader Vladimir Spidla and ODS chairman Vaclav Klaus, and then jointly with KDU-CSL leader Cyril Svoboda and Freedom Union-DEU chairwoman Hana Marvanova, to discuss the results of the election, presidential spokesman Ladislav Spacek told journalists. The spokesman added that Havel would not be consulting with KCSM chairman Miroslav Grebenicek. It is expected that Havel will wait until the Election Office confirm the result, before asking one of the leaders to try and form a government. On a discussion programme on Czech TV on Sunday night, Spidla said that Havel had unofficially told him he would be asked to form a new government. Analysts consider the most likely scenario would be for a formal coalition between the CSSD and the Coalition parties, which would have 101 seats in the 200-seat chamber. Analysts consider that the 'grand agreement' between the CSSD and ODS following the 1998 election, which allowed the minority CSSD government to rule, is unlikely to renewed, while a formal coalition between the two parties is also considered a non-starter. Havel annoyed some politicians by revealing in a recent interview that he did not necessarily have to appoint the leader of the party with most seats, but it is likely that it will be Spidla that is invited to try and form a government later this week.

(NewsBase 18.vi.02)

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