- Title: CZECH REPUBLIC: Political parties begin their election campaigns
- Date: 26th April 2010
- Summary: PEOPLE BEING GIVEN "ELECTION BEER AND SAUSAGE" AT THE ODS STAND
- Embargoed: 11th May 2010 13:00
- Location: Czech Republic
- Country: Czech Republic
- Topics: Domestic Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA8LG508F5FC984W82PRSZ444L6
- Story Text: Billboards line Czech highways as the Republic's two main political parties begin their campaigns for a general election to be held on May 28th and 29th.
The leftist Social Democrats are poised to win at the polls, but small right-wing and centrist parties may take enough seats to make forming a left-leaning government difficult or even impossible, an opinion poll showed on April 21st.
"We may actually witness a completely new situation in the Czech Republic. I think that the two largest parties may be significantly weakened and they will have to look for coalition partners that they have not tried yet - new parties which are at this point a bit unknown," said political analyst Jiri Pehe.
The poll by the CVVM agency showed support for the Social Democrats (CSSD) edged down to 30 percent in April from 32 percent last month, and support for the main right-wing party, the Civic Democrats (ODS) dropped by 3 points to 22.5 percent.
The Czech system of allocating seats can be disadvantageous for the smallest parties, but the poll still suggested that the Social Democrats could have difficulty forming a cabinet.
Parties win representation in the 200-seat lower house when they get more than 5 percent of the vote on the national level. But crossing this limit is not enough in some of the country's smaller voting regions, where a low number of seats is distributed only among the top parties.
The Social Democrats could form a minority cabinet supported by the far-left Communists, if they together win a majority. If not, the centrist and right-wing parties could form a majority administration.
"It seems that at this point that the Social Democratic Party will win the elections but the question is whether the Social Democrats will have a majority with the communists, that is, that of the left will have the majority. And whether, if they do have a majority, whether they will still prefer a coalition with central right parties," Pehe said.
Other options are a coalition of the Civic Democrats with centrist parties -- unlikely according to the poll -- or a grand coalition of the Social and Civic Democrats, which the two parties have been ruling out.
The Social Democrats began their campaigning in Bohemia on Friday (April 23) in the town of Usti nad Labem near the German border, where they are traditionally successful.
The party is promising to be one that supports the ordinary voter.
"Today people have to opportunity to decide about the character of the state - if it will be a socialist type of state as is usual in western Europe, especially in Scandinavia, or if it will be a state that is only for the privileged and rich people. We want ordinary people to live as well as possible," party leader Jiri Paroubek said.
At the launch of the the Civil Democrats campaign last week, party leader Petr Necas said his party would be trying to reach as many voters as possible in the run up to the election.
"We will do our best to drive through as many villages and towns in the Republic as possible to organize hundreds of meetings and talk shows with thousands of people to convince them to vote for our "responsible feature" program," he said.
But it seems that even some of the Civil Democrats supporters are sceptical of an ODS victory.
"I am very sorry about the current political situation. We never imagined that communists will get back into new important positions and the ODS will weaken as has happened today. It is a big problem but I really trust it will not last longer than until the next elections," said pensioner Jiri Kepka.
While one Social Democrats supporter was confident in his choice.
"I will vote for the Social Democrats because they are doing the best for ordinary people," said Jaroslav.
At both rallies, the beer was flowing and music was provided to entertain the crowds. And it seems the two crown price tag (0.10 euro cents) at the Social Democrats' event may have won them a voter or two.
"Maybe just because of the beer I will vote for the CSSD," said Peter, showing off his collection of empty beer cups.
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