ODS wins but Pirates likely to rule Prague

A close race in the municipal elections has made the Pirates into kingmakers

Prague bucked the nationwide trend in the municipal elections, giving a plurality to the Civic Democrats (ODS), while Andrej Babiš's ANO movement, which had the most votes in municipal elections in most of the rest of the country, came in fifth place.

The Pirate Party, as expected, came in second in Prague in a very tight race. But the composition of the coalition that will eventually govern the city is still far from clear. A most likely scenario, though, would see the ODS go into opposition for a lack of partners, and the Pirates hoist their flag on the masts of City Hall.

Without the support of the Pirates, a viable coalition is unlikely, which puts the Pirates in the deciding role.

With all votes counted, the ODS has 14 seats in Prague's 65 member Municipal Assembly, with 17.87 percent of the vote, while the Pirates have 13 seats and 17.07 percent, followed by Praha Sobě with 13 seats and 16.47 percent, a coalition led by TOP 09 with 13 seats and 16.29 percent, and ANO with 12 seats and 15.37 percent. Voter turnout was 46.44 percent.

The TOP 09 coalition, called United Forces for Prague (Spojené síly pro Prahu ), includes TOP 09, Mayors and Independents (STAN), the Christian Democrats (KDU-ČSL) , the Liberal-Environmental Party (LES) and Jan Kasl's Democrats.

The Social Democrats (ČSSD), once a major political force, and the Communists (KSČM) failed to get enough votes for any seats in the 65 member Municipal Assembly and will be absent for the first time since the Velvet Revolution.

The right-wing Freedom and Direct Democracy (SPD) party and the Greens (SZ) also failed to pass the 5 percent threshold, as did all of the other minor parties.

If ODS returns to power, former mayor Bohuslav Svoboda, who served 2010–13, would return to his previous office.

Svoboda said that the ODS would look for anyone to work with who supports its priorities of turning back the tide of the past four years, and moving forward to complete the Ring Road and improve parking and housing.

But the other parties who gained seats seem reluctant to cooperate in a coalition with him. A more likely outcome will be Pirates in conjunction with Praha Sobě and the TOP 09-STAN grouping, which would have 39 of the 65 seats in the Municipal Assembly.

The leader of the Pirates for the municipal election, Zdeněk Hřib, said that working with ODS or ANO would be difficult based on those parties' past opposition to transparency, which is a key Pirate goal.

Praha Sobě leader Jan Čižinský, currently mayor of Prague 7, expressed a willingness to explore working with United Forces for Prague and the Pirates to change directions for the city. At the same time, he said he did not see a way forward with ODS or ANO.

Currently, Prague City Hall is run by a coalition led by ANO with the support of the ČSSD and a three-party coalition of STAN, SZ and the KDU-ČSL.

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