Figures with regional prominence, quite often local politicians, turned out to be the most successful candidates for the third of the Senate’s seats that were up for grabs in the election seats. Various people with big media profiles, on the other hand, failed to impress voters.
The Christian Democrat Party [KDU-ČSL] was the runaway winner, succeeding in nine of the 27 election districts, with a collection of purely party candidates and candidates put up in coalitions with other partners. The KDU-ČSL will now form the second biggest Senate representation. The party has already made it known that it will attempt to secure the upper house’s “second in command” post, namely that of the first deputy chair.
The other two parties in the ruling government coalition ended up as election losers. It was the first time since its 2011 arrival on the political scene that the ANO movement failed to win an election. Within hours of the contest’s result party leader Andrej Babiš was suggesting the upper house should be abolished. He questioned its relevance, given the 15.4-percent turnout at the polls. The government, however, should not be seriously threatened by the Senate’s new shape as the ruling coalition still has a 49-seat majority in the chamber.
ANO suffered something of a second-round meltdown. The movement led by entrepreneur and finance minister Babiš came out top in no less than 14 of the 27 ties in the first round of the Senate election and held high hopes for the second round contests decided between the two best performing round-one candidates. As it turned out, a mere three ANO candidates were actually voted into the upper chamber, far short of the 10 targeted by the party.
Sharing second place on the election results roster with ANO were the Mayors and Independents [STAN], and the Civic Democrats [ODS]. They took three seats each. Ending up with two seats apiece, were the largest coalition partner, the Social Democrats [ČSSD], right-leaning TOP 09 and Severočeši [Northern Bohemians].
The Senate election’s first round took place in parallel with the regional election a week before the second, decisive round. The regional election dealt the first blow of the 2016 election season to ČSSD before it went on to lose eight seats in the Senate. However, with 25 senators, the Social Democrats still have the strongest Senate caucus.
The election’s most colourful highlight was the flop of political veteran Zdeněk Škromach, of inflatable garden pool fame. He was soundly beaten by a 2:1 ratio by KDU-ČSL-backed Anna Hubáčková, the mayor of Ratíškovice, a municipality of 4,000 inhabitants in Hodonín, South Moravia. PM Bohuslav Sobotka, meanwhile, quickly made it known that he would not be looking to replace his party colleague and industry and trade minister Jan Mládek, who lost out in his Senate bid to Jaroslav Větrovský, the mayor of Mladá Vožice who was put forward by ANO. Sobotka rejected Mládek’s offered resignation.