A Narrow Win for the Left in a Divided Czech Republic

Elections were held today in the Czech Republic, perhaps the most stable of the former Soviet bloc nations and one somewhat paradoxically where the Czech Communist Party still holds considerable sway. The left of centre Social Democratic Party narrowly won the most seats but the right of centre parties made significant inroads likely setting the stage for a coalition government led by the centre-right.

With 99.8 percent of the votes counted, the Czech Statistics Office said the Social Democratic Party had won 22.1 percent of the vote, while its main rival, the conservative Civic Democratic Party, received 20.2 percent. In third place came a new conservative party called TOP 09 led by Karel Schwarzenberg, a member of the Bohemian nobility, which won 16.7 percent of the vote. Another new party, the rightist Public Affairs party, won 10.9 per cent. Driving voters rightward were fears of Greek-style debt crisis. Still the Czech Communist party took 12.2 percent of the vote. Even so, it's unlikely that the left can must sufficient votes for a governing coalition. The more likely scenario is a government headed by the Civic Democratic party. As in much of Europe these days, the byword seems to be austerity.

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