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Prague, Nov 21 (CTK) – Experts say ballot boxes seem to be manipulated during Czech elections, and a court has now found cases of incorrect counting of votes that helped a “wrong” candidate enter parliament at the cost of another, Lukas Jelinek writes in Pravo, adding that the state must take steps to prevent such flaws.

The election result of the parties such as TOP 09 and the STAN movement, which crossed the 5-percent parliament threshold only narrowly, shows that each vote and its correct counting is important, Jelinek writes.

If the above small parties had ended below 5 percent in the October general election, the victorious ANO movement would have gained some five parliamentary seats more, which would be extremely valuable for it on the tension-ridden political scene, Jelinek writes.

The evident flaws in counting votes by electoral commissions need not necessarily be intentional. There are too many election constituencies to fill all with quality members, whose remuneration is very poor, by the way, Jelinek says.

The state should, therefore, professionalize and better remunerate the commissions’ work. Furthermore, it should simplify elections, for example by making ballot papers more user-friendly or possibly introducing one-day elections instead of the present two-day polls, Jelinek writes.

The chance for voters to give preferential votes to their favorite candidates should be preserved as a factor that boosts people’s motivation to take part in elections, he says.

It means a certain progress that no one in the Czech Republic protests against President Milos Zeman visiting Russia this week, as critics have evidently started to distinguish between contacts with Russia, trips to Russia and the issues in focus of Czech-Russian negotiations, Zbynek Petracek writes in Lidove noviny (LN).

Zeman’s effort to contribute to the West’s consensus on a way to coexist with Russia is praiseworthy. It would be even better if he acted in Russia as a representative of the West, not as a representative of a bridge between the West and the East, Petracek writes.

Prague decided to act as a “bridge” repeatedly in the past, for example under the wartime London-seated president Edvard Benes. However, it is evident that this only strengthened Prague’s dependence on Russia (then Soviet Union) by diverting it from the Marshall Plan and the West, Petracek writes.

True, the question of the West’s anti-Russia sanctions is a part of the West-East coexistence agenda. However, Zeman, head of a country that was Russia’s ally but still the Russians invaded it in 1968, should not dismiss as unneeded the sanctions the West imposed for the annexation of Crimea by Moscow, Petracek adds.

Milos Zeman is the first Czech president who was chosen directly by people, and he actually could not be expected to always act in accordance with the “constitutional habits” applied by his predecessors, lawyer Jiri Nemec writes in Mlada fronta Dnes (MfD), adding that Zeman is the one who has created constitutional habits for directly elected presidents to apply.

Zeman follows the text of the constitution and he a priori does not follow what many call constitutional habits and what the constitution does not mention at all, Nemec writes.

As far as the current presidential candidates are concerned, it has turned out that the Czechs have diverted from Europe’s widespread model of the presidential post as the culmination of a person’s previous career of a statesman respected at home and abroad, Nemec writes.

Is it good to start one’s political career by becoming president, without having ever held any political post before, not even on the municipal level? Nemec asks in an allusion to many of the nine presidential contestants. In this connection, the Czechs should be grateful for former PM Mirek Topolanek’s last-minute decision to run for president, he adds.

rtj/t

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