The Czech Republic has voted its Senate and also various regional bodies.
Incidentally, most of the Czech kings were called Vaclav (Wenceslas), and the first two presidents of the Czech Republic follow the tradition. The picture shows Vaclav God-knows-what's-his-number, a Czech emperor and wise guy.
I must introduce for you the main Czech parties, so that you know the basic players:
- ODS, the Civic Democratic Party, are the Czech "Republicans". Well, they're not quite as conservative as the GOP. In fact, ODS is the ideal party because it is a "liberal conservative party". Of course, the word "liberal" is supposed to mean "libertarian". ODS was founded in 1991 by Vaclav Klaus, the father of the Czechoslovak economic transformations after the Velvet revolution. Klaus - a very bright free-market advocate who is a friend with the people like Margaret Thatcher, Milton Friedman, and others - was responsible for many important decisions, including the unpopular ones, which made him an unpopular prime minister. However, he was finally elected as the president after Vaclav Havel, who used to be one of two main Klaus's rivals - the other being Milos Zeman discussed below - and he is a highly popular president - which means a counterpart of the British queen: the fairy-tales about Klaus's alleged ignorance have mostly evaporated. Incidentally, Klaus is just visiting the USA and Canada.
- CSSD, the Czech Social Democratic Party, are the Czech "Democrats" who are currently leading the government because they won the elections in 2002 (and in 1998) with more than 30% of the electorate. The social democrats have existed in Czechoslovakia for more than a century, but they became irrelevant after the communists took over in 1948. (More precisely, they were unified with the communists.) Milos Zeman, the other rival of Klaus, who is a rather intelligent person and who has been a big fan of a fancy alcoholic drink (Becher's lemonade) revived the party around 1990. An unimportant born-again party was changed into an important player that absorbed most of the left-wing voters that would otherwise vote for the communists. Czechoslovakia was the only country in which the former communist party was marginalized. Zeman became the prime minister after Klaus in 1998, but was replaced by Vladimir Spidla, a rather boring and very "progressive" guy. It could not work indefinitely, and Spidla was finally removed from the chair of CSSD (and the government) in summer 2004, and replaced by Stanislav Gross. Gross is 35, the youngest prime minister in Europe today, but he looks roughly 15-20.
- KSCM, the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia, is the Czech Republic's part of the former Communist Party of Czechoslovakia (founded in 1921) that has controlled Czechoslovakia between 1948 and 1989. It has not changed anything about its 19th century ideology of marxism-leninism. The current leader is Miroslav Grebenicek, a rather popular gentleman among many 80+ years old people. Grebenicek comes from a good family - his father was one of the communist killers in the 1950s.
Well, that was bad enough even for the Czech socialists, and they replaced Spidla by Gross. Stanislav Gross has been one of the two most popular Czech politicians of the last 5 years, especially because he looks like a child, but also because he has relatively good diplomatic skills.
However, in the elections today, ODS became the clear winner in 12 regions out of 13 (these are Czech counterparts of the "states"). The exception was the Southern Moravia where the KDU-CSL (The Christian Democratic Union - the Czechoslovak People's Party) became the winner. The ODS candidates have made it to the second round in 25 out of 27 Senate districts. In 9 of them, their rivals will be communists who were more successful than the social democrats.
In Pilsen - which is my home town where the modern beer was invented - the ODS's mayor Jiri Sneberger was able to become a senator already after the first round because he has earned more than 50 percent of votes. Yes, I would vote for him, too.
Obviously, Gross's innocent face does not seem to be enough. If you think that the reason for the recent successes of ODS is the natural right-wing character of the Czechs, which will allow this nation to compete with America, you're almost definitely wrong. The main reason is that the social democrats are currently responsible for the government, and the Czechs like to complain 90% of their time about the government that is supposed to solve all of their problems. Unluckily, it's been their government for 6 years. This fact makes the job for Miroslav Topolanek, who became the chairman of ODS after Klaus a couple of years ago, slightly easier.
Incidentally, the Czech president Klaus may have been rather skeptical about most wars that the States recently started - including Kosovo and Iraq - but as a rightwinger, it is not surprising that he welcomes Bush's win. "Bush is a standard bearer of American values," Klaus said.