>Czech presidential election: farce and deadlock as Klaus misses out by 1 vote
The final round of voting in the Czech presidential election is marked by further procedural wrangles, confused reports that three (or four?) parliamentarians have been taken ill and accusations of skulduggery. Some of the voting figures from the second round have been miscalculated, but opposition parties’ don’t seem care as the second round is just a prelude to the decisive third round; Christian Democrat Senator Josef Kabáč, ,one of the tellers, seems to have gone AWOL on the second day with no one noticing. This was initially reported as being due his disgust at Parliament voting in public, but actually – it turns out – because of heart problems.
Then there are accusations – an overheard conversation in a corridor – that Civic Democrat Interior Minister Ivan Langer and one of his parliamentarian colleagues have done some kind of shady deal with Social Democrat deputy, Evžen Snítílý. There seems to be a history of this kind of thing in Czech politics. The current centre-right minority government only took office last year thanks to the defection of two social democrat deputies, who now sit as independents (Both voted for Klaus in the presidential election) Similar things took place in the 1990s – for some reason Czech Social Democrats seems to lack a certain ideological backbone. The situation is resolved, sort of, when Snítílý collapses and has to leave the proceedings for medical reasons – or was that part of the agreement (if there was an agreement?)?
When the vote, when it finally takes place, slightly against expectations, Václav Klaus one vote short of election, probably due to the unexpected absence – or unnoticed – of Kabáč. Klaus polls 139 votes. Švejnar is far behind won113 voters, but because the Communists parliamentarian have physically stayed put in the Spanish Hall put pushes up the majority required to 140. There are (despite the graphic above) 26 abstentions and three absences.
As in 2003, the whole three-round election process now need to be repeated. Friday is the day to watch. The Czech press is full of the predicable fuming about the undignified and farcical nature of the whole process, but you do wonder when the country will opt for the simple expedient of electing the President directly?
As far as the contest is concerned, Klaus remains favourite. Švejnar would need not only to garner some Christian Democratic votes, but also get the Communists actively on side. Unlikely, but doubtless combative Social Democrat leader and ex-PM Jiří Paroubek will try to stitch such an coalition together – or perhaps just block the whole process.