The Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš and his YES movement will lose the advantage of the big parties after the amendment of the electoral law. PHOTO: SITA / AP
Author: SITA / AP
The YES movement of Prime Minister Andrej Babiš would have nine deputies less, on the contrary, the opposition Pirates and their new partners from the two-party coalition Mayors and Independents (STAN) would be strengthened by five deputies. Half a year before the parliamentary elections, the Chamber of Deputies approved changes to the electoral law, which would significantly confuse the distribution of seats after the last elections in autumn 2017 and will also affect the next ones, which are announced for the second weekend in October.
The lower house of parliament had to change the election rules. Two months ago, the Constitutional Court annulled the key passages of the two decades-long law. Based on them, in some cases, small parties needed twice as many votes as large ones to get one member. According to the court, the constitutional principle of equality of votes was thus violated.
On Thursday’s third reading, MEPs unexpectedly smoothly agreed to an amendment to the election law, which will reduce the quorum for coalitions and guarantee the distribution of seats automatically according to the election results. “It is quite pleasant when you can say to the mass media that we have agreed on something here, it is not very often,” the News portal quoted the Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies Radek Vondráček from ANO, who was the submitter of the proposal.
Overall, the new system continues to favor larger parties over smaller ones, but not so significantly. “The difference between the number of votes needed to fill one seat of the Chamber of Deputies should no longer be doubled, but should differ by at most a third,” the iRozhlas portal wrote.
Back in February, Prime Minister Babiš harshly criticized the Constitutional Court, which, according to him, is changing the rules in the middle of a rivalry. “It is irresponsible to strengthen proportions in a situation where only three governments have ruled in the last 30 years. Since the somewhat stable system, the Czech Republic has set out on the path of Italy with a new government every year, “Prime Minister Lidové noviny quoted Prime Minister at the time.
This time, Babiš did not respond with criticism. Maybe because the preferences of his movement are declining, and the change that will make the smaller ones get more and the big ones less likely to bother him. In recent surveys, the two-party coalition Pirates – STAN leads YES.
“It is a change that did not turn out the worst, but not the best,” political scientist Tomáš Lebeda from Palacký University in Olomouc commented on the amendment for Hospodářské noviny. “The law managed to remove the most problematic things,” he added. However, he called it controversial that, although not as strongly as before, the vote of the electorate would not carry the same weight. Although it will no longer happen that while the deputies of the strongest YES were enough to advance to the Chamber of Deputies by less than 20,000 votes, the last STAN needed 43,000 votes for one term. However, according to Lebed, inequality will occur between regions. While in the big ones, five percent of the votes for a given region will usually be enough for the parties to obtain a parliamentary mandate, in the smaller ones it may not be even more than ten percent of the votes.
The amendment to the law, in line with the court’s verdict, also eased the increase in the quorum for coalitions. In the upcoming elections, the two-member coalition will have to get eight percent of the vote to enter the Chamber, compared to the previous ten, and the three- and multi-member coalition 11 percent of the vote, which is four percent less than in the past.
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