The Czech President, Vaclav Havel, is expected to appoint the Socialist leader, Vladimir Spidla, as the new Prime Minister on 17 June, after his party’s victory at general elections.
The Socialists, who have led the Czech Government for the last four years, have won the 14-15 June elections with 30 per cent of the vote. Their main rivals, the conservative Civic Democrats, won 25 per cent of the vote. The Communists were third with 18 per cent, and the Centrist Coalition fourth with 14 per cent. No other party won enough votes to enter the Parliament.
The turnout was only 57 per cent, the lowest since the restoration of democracy in 1989.
Despite the strong electoral showing, the Socialist Government will not be strong. Mr Spidla will either lead a minority Socialist Government or a coalition with the Centrist party, which would give the Government only a single seat majority in the Parliament. The Socialists gained 70 seats, and the Centrist Coalition 31 out of 200 seats.
The new Government’s main task will be to bring the Czech Republic into the EU. The victory of the pro-European Socialists will ensure that Prague remains a keen supporter of EU membership. The new Government is also expected to speed up economic reforms and fight widespread corruption.