The ANO movement, headed by businessman turned politician Andrej Babiš, came first among Czech parties running in the European Parliamentary elections. ANO gained 16.12 percent of the vote, which translates into four mandates followed by the opposition right-wing TOP 09 which won 15.95 percent, likewise gaining four mandates and the Social Democrats of the ruling coalition came third with 14.17 percent, for which they will also get four seats. Another four parties passed the five percent threshold needed to win seats in the European Parliament: the Communists (10.98%), the Christian Democrats (9.95%), the Civic Democrats (7.67%) and the Free Citizens’ Party (5.24%).
In the Czech Republic, a record 38 parties and movements fielded 849 candidates for 21 seats in the 751-strong assembly. However there was a record low voter turnout - 18.2 percent of Czech voters cast their ballot in the European elections.
The Czech media are blaming the country’s politicians for the low voter turnout –a mere 18.2 percent of Czech voters cast their ballot in the European elections. The daily Mladá fronta Dnes notes Czech politicians have failed to explain to voters the workings of the EU and the impact that decisions made in the European Parliament have on everyday life in the Czech Republic. Consequently, Czechs are identifying themselves less than ever before with the EU and scepticism regarding the alliance is on the rise, the paper says. Lidové Noviny points to the paradox that the new European Parliament will have greater powers than ever before, while having a lower legitimacy because of widespread voter disinterest.
The head of the Green Party Ondřej Liška has resigned as party leader in the wake of the party’s poor showing in the European elections. The party received 3.7 percent of the vote, failing to cross the five percent margin needed to win seats. Mr. Liška said he was deeply disappointed by the low voter turnout, saying it was a reflection of the state of Czech and European politics. In over a decade Czech politicians have not been able to explain to voters what EU integration is good for, the Green Party leader noted.
Political parties will soon start negotiating on a joint Czech candidate for the post of EU commissioner. The ANO party of the ruling coalition is hoping that its election victory will give it an advantage in pushing through its candidate for the post, the country’s first EU commissioner Pavel Telička. However Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said on Monday that no single party had won an emphatic victory which would give it special privileges in this respect and that the matter would be debated not only among the ruling parties but consulted with the opposition in order to achieve as broad a consensus as possible.
The leader of the ANO party which came first in elections to the European Parliament says the election result confirms that his party is a politically stable force on the domestic scene. Psychologically, this is an important indicator and driving force for us, Mr. Babiš said, adding that he attributed his party’s victory to the fact that ANO had put experts on its election ticket while others had sought to find plum jobs for side-lined politicians. Mr. Babiš said the country’s 21 MEPs should cooperate closely to further Czech interests.
Prime Minister and Social Democrat leader Bohuslav Sobotka said the low turnout had reflected on the party’s performance in the elections. The Social Democrats defended 7 seats in the elections but only won four. Mr. Sobotka said his party has had a long term problem in convincing its supporters to vote in European elections and it was clear that the party’s sympathises had seen no reason to go to the polls. At the same time, the prime minister said he was pleased that all three ruling parties had won seats in the European Parliament and that according to his calculations 15 of the country’s 21 MEPs would be pro-European.
The state will pay out an overall 42.5 million crowns to parties who won at least one percent of the vote in elections to the European Parliament. The amount of public finances distributed will be much lower than expected due to the low voter turnout. ANO which got over over 244,000 votes will get 7.3 million crowns from state coffers, and TOP 09 which came second will also get over 7 million crowns. The Social Democrats who finished third will get 6.4 million. The state contribution amounts to 30 crowns per vote.
Czech President Miloš Zeman has congratulated business tycoon Petro Poroshenko on his emphatic victory in Sunday’s presidential elections in Ukraine. In a letter to Mr. Poroshenko, President Zeman stressed the need for a peaceful solution to the drawn-out Ukrainian crisis and wished Ukraine’s newly elected head of state success in bringing such a solution about.
Legendary Czech forward Jaromír Jágr confirmed he was retiring from international hockey on Sunday shortly after the national team’s defeat by Sweden at the Ice Hockey World Championships. The Czech Republic finished outside the medals in the tournament, losing 3-0 in the bronze medal match. Jágr played for his country five times at the Winter Olympics, including the 2014 Sochi Games, and eight times at the World Championships. He won Olympic gold in 1998 and bronze in 2006 and gold at the Worlds in 2005 and 2010. The 42-year-old forward will continue to play in the NHL after resigning for one year with the New Jersey Devils.
Meteorologists have issued a storm warning for the upcoming 48 hours. A cold front moving from the west is expected to bring heavy storms with hailstones in places, high wind and heavy rain which may swell smaller rivers. The belt of rain should hit Bohemia on Tuesday afternoon and move eastwards to Moravia and Silesia on Wednesday.