Czech PM's party support drops to record low in poll

Reuters News
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Posted: Mar 19, 2013 11:30 AM
Czech PM's party support drops to record low in poll

PRAGUE (Reuters) - Voter support for the man Czech ruling party hit a new low this month, showing public dissatisfaction with a lengthy recession and austerity measures adopted by the center-right coalition.

The poll, by the private STEM agency, showed the Civic Democrats (ODS) led by Prime Minister Petr Necas had the support of just 8.6 percent of all voters, its lowest rating on record.

The party would win just 10.5 percent of the vote under the agency's prediction model, which takes into account forecast turnout and other factors, down from 14 percent a month ago.

The center-left Social Democrats would win 33 percent, the same as last month, and remained on track to form the next government - either in another coalition or a minority cabinet - in 2014 after eight years in opposition.

The government has lost popularity due to a recession or stagnation that has lasted for six quarters, with scarce signs of a recovery ahead. Unemployment has risen to 8.1 percent, a record high, and government austerity has cut into incomes.

The Civic Democrats have also been hit by several corruption scandals and an unpopular amnesty to thousands of prisoners announced in January by outgoing President Vaclav Klaus, a former party chief, and co-signed by Necas.

The survey showed the Social Democrats, led by former finance minister Bohuslav Sobotka, would win 84 seats in the 200-seat lower house, and would need at least one partner to find a majority in the lower house of parliament.

The party has pledged to raise taxes for companies and top earners and to raise the minimum wage.

It already controls most of the country's regional administrations and a majority in the upper house, the Senate.

The Civic Democrats, on the other hand, would win just 22 seats, compared with 53 they hold now.

TOP09, the junior partner in the ruling coalition, has become the biggest right-wing party according to voter support polling 17.6 percent, matching its 2010 election result.

(Reporting by Jan Lopatka; Editing by Alison Williams)