Pirates leading in Prague poll

The municipal elections may see a big change in City Hall

The Czech Pirates say they hope to win the municipal elections in Prague. One poll shows them in the lead, but far from an outright majority so they would need to find coalition partners to form a city government. They also hope to succeed in other regional cities.

The municipal elections will take place Oct. 5–6, and expats from other EU countries who have residence can vote if they ask at their local administrative office in advance to be included on the voter rolls.

Pirates lead in a pre-election opinion poll by Kantar TNS for Czech Television conducted between Aug. 4 and 26. If the elections were held now, the Pirates in Prague would have 21.5 percent of the vote in Prague, while the ANO, which currently hold the mayoral post, would have 14 percent. The right-wing Civic Democrats (ODS) and Freedom and Direct Democracy (SPD) both have 13 percent, followed by center-right TOP 09 at 10.5 percent, centrist Mayors and Independents (STAN) at 9 percent, the Communists (KSČM) at 6.5 percent, and the centrist Christian Democrats (KDU-ČSL) at 5.5 percent. The left-wing Social Democrats (ČSSD), once a key party, has just 2.5 percent.

The Pirates promise an open administration, affordable housing, transparent decision making, citizen involvement in city management and ending political patronage.

The Pirates’ campaign slogan is: We will stay the course, but change in Prague and turn the rudder in České Budějovice.

Pirate party leader Ivan Bartoš announced his intentions at the start of the campaign. “We really have the ambition to win the elections in Prague. According to recent surveys, Pirates are clear favorites,” Bartoš said, according to media reports.

“In every city where we create a candidate, it is a success for us not only to do better than we had in the past municipal elections but to do better than we did in the last elections to the Chamber of Deputies,” Bartoš said. Pirates have 3,000 candidates in 165 cities and municipalities in this year's local elections.

The Pirates say they will want to work with parties primarily on the basis of program priorities, but also on political integrity. Bartoš said it will be difficult to agree with the KSČM and SPD because they are involved in the “decomposition of liberal democracy in the Czech Republic.”

Virtually all Pirate leaders in regional cities promised to end the patronage ties to politicians. Bartoš gave examples of several politicians who are also involved in business, and who are alleged to use their political position to favor their businesses.

Local leaders also have individual goals. Prague Pirate leader Zdeněk Hřib has promised to plant 1 million trees in the capital to protect against heat.

The same Kantar TNS showed the Pirates would be less successful in the upcoming Senate elections, with 15 percent, compared to 28 percent for ANO. 

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