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Czech Social Democrats heading for election win

Czech Social Democrats heading for election win

A left-leaning party that opposes any troop increase in Afghanistan and supports higher taxes appears to be heading for a victory in this week's general election in the Czech Republic.
All polls put the Social Democrats of former Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek well ahead of its major rival, the conservative Civic Democratic Party.
But a stable government is nowhere in sight.
The Social Democrats will almost certainly need a partner to carry out their election promises, which include an extra payment to pensioners and an end to fees for doctors' visits.
The party wants to adopt the euro as its currency in 2015 or 2016, plans to increase corporate taxes from 19 to 21 percent, and proposes to introduce a new personal tax of 38 percent for those with the highest incomes.
The voting takes place in the Czech Republic on Friday and Saturday, with preliminary results expected soon after the polls close.
The Civic Democrats and other parties have ruled out cooperating with the Social Democrats, accusing them of making irresponsible promises that could harm the country's economic recovery.
It could take months to form a government. Analysts warn that the country needs fundamental reforms, including a pension system overhaul _ and needs them soon.
"We can't afford to waste time," said David Marek, an analyst at Patria Finance in Prague.
The Czech economy contracted by 4.2 percent last year, and the EU predicts growth of 1.6 percent this year. The budget deficit will likely reach 5.3 percent in 2010, and the public debt is at a 35 percent of GDP, reasonable compared with other EU countries.
"What's dangerous is the dynamism of the debt," said Radomir Jac, chief economist at PPF Asset Management. "In two years, we could be at 40 percent."
The 2006 ballot split the lower house of parliament down the middle, setting off eight months of tough negotiations that resulted in a three-party coalition government led by the Civic Democrats. But the government lost a parliamentary no-confidence vote in March 2009, days before President Barack Obama's visit to Prague and in the middle of the Czech EU presidency.
The country has been run by a caretaker government since then, its longest period without a proper government since 1989.
This weekend's vote could result in a stalemate again, polls suggest.
Disgusted with scandals that have hit the major parties, voters are turning to political newcomers, including the Public Affairs Party, which is campaigning against corruption, and TOP 09, a conservative party that calls for strict fiscal discipline. The Communist Party also may see gains.
The members of the previous government _ the Christian Democrats and the Greens, supported by former President Vaclav Havel _ could be among the electoral losers.
A close result could turn small parties into kingmakers.
An option for the Social Democrats would be a minority Cabinet with support from the Communists, giving them a share of power for the first time since the collapse of Communism. The Communists could demand complete withdrawal from Afghanistan.


Updated : 2021-04-17 05:20 GMT+08:00