Czech Opposition Vows to Counter Cabinet Plans With Senate Win

The Czech Social Democrats, the country’s largest opposition party, pledged today to counter government policies after gaining a majority in the Senate that gives it the power to reject Cabinet bills.

The Social Democratic Party won 13 seats in runoff voting on Oct. 19-20 for a third of the Senate, according to results published by the statistics office. Prime Minister Petr Necas’s Civic Democrats got four seats, while his coalition partner, the TOP09 party, won two. The vote gives the Social Democrats a total of 46 senators in the 81-seat chamber and the Civil Democrats 15.

“The Senate majority is very important to allow us to correct the government’s legislative intentions,” Bohuslav Sobotka, the Social Democrats’ chairman, said in a video posted on the party’s website. “The elections were a message to the government that people want a political change.”

An opposition-controlled Senate will have the power to block legislation, and Necas’s government lacks the lower-house majority to override vetoes. The Cabinet’s ability to push through legislation may depend on unaffiliated lawmakers who defected from the ruling parties.

The Senate has already returned legislation to the lower house this year, including a bill to raise taxes. Necas failed on Sept. 5 to secure enough votes in the lower house to override a veto when six of his lawmakers joined the opposition to reject the attempt, saying they were against a plan to boost revenue with higher taxes.

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