Czech coalition keeps majority in parliament upper chamber

Reuters News
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Posted: Oct 18, 2014 12:56 PM

PRAGUE (Reuters) - The ruling Czech coalition kept a majority in the upper house of parliament after a round of mid-term Senate elections on Saturday, ensuring the government can still pass legislation without major obstacles.

Official results showed the ruling Social Democrats (CSSD) and their coalition partners, the ANO movement and Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL), will have 46 senators in the 81-strong upper chamber.

The Czech Senate can return legislation to the lower chamber and has the power to veto international treaties, although it does not approve the central state budget. The Senate also keeps parliament running in the event the lower chamber is dissolved, as happened last year.

Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka's CSSD lost its absolute majority, however, with a drop to 33 seats from 41, including defeats for Education Minister Marcel Chladek and Senate Deputy Speaker Alena Gajduskova.

The social democrats were defending 23 of the 27 seats contested in the election and were widely expected to lose their straight majority, won two years ago as a popular opposition party.

Their coalition partners, however, picked up seats to keep the majority. The centrist ANO movement, founded in 2011 by its leader, Finance Minister and billionaire Andrej Babis, won its first four seats while the Christian Democrats succeeded with five candidates.

(Reporting by Robert Muller; editing by David Clarke)