Czech Voters Oust Communists From Parliament for 1st Time Since 1948

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On Oct. 9, Czech voters booted the communists out of Parliament for the first time since the end of World War II, voting out a party with Soviet-backed predecessors that ruled the central European nation with an iron fist from 1948 until 1989’s Velvet Revolution that ushered in democracy.

The Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia (KSCM) failed to retain enough seats to enter the Czech Parliament for the first time since the formation of the Czech Republic after Czechoslovakia was peacefully dissolved into two nations in 1993, with the other state becoming Slovakia.

The KSCM took 3.62 percent of the vote, failing to meet the 5 percent mark needed to retain seats in both the House and the Chamber of Deputies.

In a stunning upset, the SPOLU alliance, a liberal-conservative three-party coalition, captured 27.8 percent of the vote, beating Prime Minister Andrej Babis’ Action for Dissatisfied Citizens (ANO) 2011 party, which won 27.1 percent.

The center-left-liberal coalition of the Pirate Party (PIR) and the Mayors and Independents party (STAN) received 15.6 percent of the vote, finishing in third place, according to the statistics office.

Ahead of the election, the SPOLU alliance vowed to form a coalition government with the PIR/STAN coalition. Over the weekend, the alliance signed a memorandum on their intent to create a majority Czech government with the coalition.

The failure to secure enough votes comes amid waning support for the communist party, who, during their reign, jailed tens of thousands of people in forced labor camps in the 1950s and brutally repressed dissidents, including playwright-turned-president Vaclav Havel.

“It pleases me. It pleases me a lot,” said Jiri Gruntorad, 69, a former dissident who signed the dissident Charter 77 statement and was jailed for subversion from 1981 to 1985 by the communist regime. “But it’s coming too late.

“It was one of the last communist parties in the world apart from the Chinese and Cuban ones that held on to its name.”

By Katabella Roberts

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