Czech Election System

This week we are taking a look at the Czech election system. The Czech Republic is due to go to the polls on the 20th and 21st of October. In what could be yet another crucial election for the European Union, we are taking a look at the election system and the main candidates.

The Czech Election System:

Following the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, the Czech Republic began its search for a different system of governance. In 1992 they adopted parliamentary democracy in a similar style that existed in the Inter-war period. In the style of the French system, the President holds a significant amount of power over new legislation and running the country.

The Chamber of Deputies (the lower house) holds more power than the Senate in terms of scrutinizing the government and the creation of new legislation. The Chamber of Deputies may also vote to overrule any veto decision made by the Senate. For this, they need a simple majority – 101 seats. These powers do not, however, extend to the ratification of international agreements, or resolutions regarding security or defence. In these cases, each chamber has equal rights.

Chamber of Deputies Senate
Members 200 81
Term Length 5 6
Election System Proportional (d’Hont) Majority
Election Districts 14 81

Source: Czech Parliamentary Website (PDF)

The Election System

For the Chamber of Deputies, the Czech Republic usually manages a turnout of just under 60%. Senate elections, however, do not see as high a turnout. Indeed the previous two elections saw turnouts of just 34.9% and 43.73% respectively. This is largely due to two main causes, the relative power held by each chamber and the election systems themselves.

The Senate is divided up into smaller constituencies using simple majoritarian election procedures. Senators are elected by receiving the most number of votes in their respective voting constituencies. The Chamber of Deputies, on the other hand, is elected using proportional representation. Similarly to the German election system, single parties must receive at least 5% of votes to gain seats. Coalitions of two parties must receive 10%, three parties 15% etc.

Seats are allocated to regions based on the number of valid votes cast. If one voting district cast 20% of all eligible voters that district would receive 20% of the seats in the Chamber of Deputies. Seats are then sub-divided according to how many each party list received in their respective regions.

Read more about the d’Hont Highest Averages method here.