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Byly volby

Over the last weekend (20 and 21 October), there were elections in the Czech Republic for the second time since I've started this blog. (Less than a year!) Up for grabs were a third of the 81 seats in the Senate, the upper house of the Czech parliament, and posts in city governments around the country. It turns out that the Senate does very little except comment on laws (it can excercise a veto if enough votes can be mustered) and elect the President. After the inconclusive results of the June elections, the "center-right" ODS party (Civic Democrats) won by a large majority. This was apparently considered a referendum on their leadership and they had a strong showing, averaging around thirty-six percent across the country.

Originally uploaded by youplayawhat.
There was a surprise in Brno, where ODS has held a majority for about 15 years. Although ODS still came out on top, the "center-left" ČSSD (Social Democrats) got more than twenty percent of the vote. In addition to that, a non-partisan association called Brno 2006, led by Senator Jiří Zlatuška, got a whopping 9 percent, enough to seat some of its candidates. We don't know yet who the next mayor will be since that depends on negotiations between the victors. As one non-traditional campaign poster put it, Vítěz má vždy pravdu (the Victor always holds the truth), in part playing off the slogan of the Czech president, Pravda vítězí (the Truth shall be victorious).

Word on the street has it that there's been some pretty corrupt stuff going on at the radnice (town hall) during ODS's watch. Their mayoral candidate, Karel Hledík (pictured at top), was rumored to be a nice guy but selected because he could rubber-stamp whatever policies the party power-brokers wanted. I don't know what the truth is, but that's the rumor. Hledík is only 63, and I don't know if he would be easy to push around or not; however, he apparently was too tired (or uninterested) to stay at the ODS's party until all the results came in. He got the results at home on the telephone.

Brno2006 surprised everybody, I guess. I was rooting for them, though, because they have a good candidate and a catchy campaign. Here's what Rovnost had to say:
Even the political opponents [of Brno2006] were shaking their heads over such a high result. "I thought that they would not get that many votes. I will have to think about what it is. Mr Zlatuška did not really offer the power of real things," wondered Civic Democrat Hledík. Similarly perplexed by the Senator's high result were [ČSSD's mayoral candidate] Roman Onderka and Communist [mayoral candidate] Pavel Březa. "They had a lot more massive campaign than us. Our results are a definite disappointment and didn't meet our ambitions," said Březa, attempting to explain why they [the Communist party] had finished behind Brno2006.

You can view the election returns for yourself at volby.cz, a Web site maintained by the Czech Statistical Institute.
Interviews with all the mayoral candidates were re-posted at Moderní Brno

**By the way, this post marks the one-year anniversary of NvB!**

Tags: ,


Blogger Julia said . . .

Happy Birthday BnBrno!    

10:57 AM, October 23, 2006

Blogger tuckova said . . .

Happy birthday!

Question: the translation of "pravda" as "truth"-- isn't it closer to use "right" (because it's got the double meaning of "correct" and "opposite of left" in Czech as well)?

The posters were awful, although I did see one where someone had put a noose around the candidate's head; I quite liked that. But Onderka looked like he had spiderwebs in his hair and everybody wanted to cover up his double chin and there was far too much orange altogether. Is it the new national color or what? If you can't even tell them apart on their posters, how on Earth is one to decide based on their positions?

Fortunately, we don't have to decide, hey. We can observe in quietly sidelined bafflement.    

8:37 PM, October 23, 2006

Blogger morskyjezek said . . .

That's true about the pravda translation, but I'm not sure that it completely works since usually the only possible Czech translation for truth is pravda. I think that what's at issue in those sayings is much more to people reading them than just a political statement or a right/wrong or right/left dicotomy. Pravda as truth, something that can still be believed in, is, I think, actually deeply entrenched in Czech worldview and philosophy. When a person is right (as in correct), you say Máš pravdu, which has always intrigued me since it could also mean that "you have the truth."

Of course, the pun on "right" does work nicely in Czech, as in English. I'll have to look up the etymology--not that it really matters, but it'd be interesting to know if the root of pravda was closer to truth and the metaphor of "right" somehow got added later, or if it's related to the prevalence of right-handedness, or what.

I think that Havel's 1989 version of Truth shall be victorious (or, more simply, Truth triumphs) was Truth and Love shall Triumph over Lies and Hate. In that one, truth and right don't seem so interchangeable. But maybe that's just because I have a soft spot in my heart for Havel. The saying goes back much farther than the 20th century, I hear, and I suspect it predates the meaning of "right" as "conservative," which may have a quite different meaning in Czech politics than American.    

10:09 PM, October 25, 2006

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