Here’s what you need to know about tomorrow’s (Friday’s) and Saturday’s polls:
1. The election was called early following the fall of the centre-right government led by Petr Nečas who resigned in June after his chief of staff was charged with bribery and abuse of power. Subsequent attempts by President Miloš Zeman to install a technocratic government led by Jiří Rusnok were rejected by parliament.
2. The Czech Chamber of Deputies has 200 seats. These will be contested by 23 political parties and 5,923 candidates. There are 8.4 million registered voters in the country.
3. The main parties:
Social Democratic Party (ČSSD, @CSSD on Twitter), led by Bohuslav Sobotka.
The centre-right Civic Democratic Party (ODS, @odscz), led by Miroslava Němcová.
The centre-right TOP 09 (@top09cz), led by Karel Schwarzenberg (@schwarzenberg_k)
Communist Party (KSČM), led by Vojtěch Filip.
Christian and Democratic Union-People’s Party (KDU-ČSL, @kdu_csl), led by Pavel Bělobrádek (@PavelBelobradek).
Action of Dissatisfied Citizens (ANO), a liberal party party founded by billionaire Andrej Babiš (@AndrejBabis) in 2011.
The centre-left Party of Civic Rights-Zeman’s People (SPO-Z)
The conservative-liberal Dawn of Direct Democracy (UPD [or Úsvit], @hnutiusvit_cz), which mainly includes former members of the Public Affairs (VV) party and ODS.
The distribution of seats after the last election: ČSSD 56, ODS 53, TOP 09 41, KSČM 26, VV 24.
4. Seats in the Czech parliament are assigned via party list proportional representation, there is a 5% threshold to enter parliament.
5. The latest average of polls: ČSSD 25.8%, KSČM 14.5%, ANO 14.1%, TOP 09 10.8%, ODS 7.7%, KDU-ČSL 5.8%, UPD [Úsvit] 5%, SPOZ 4.3%
As polls cannot be released in the final week of the campaign, it’s worth keeping in mind the following trends – over the past few weeks support for [Úsvit], and ANO especially, has risen, while support for the Social Democrats and Communists has dropped from the highs seen during the aftermath of the fall of the ODS-led government. At the time, a minority ČSSD government (supported by the KSČM) seemed like an inevitable outcome. In addition to the performance of ANO, another key factor will be which of the smaller parties passes the 5% threshold.
6. The 2010 result: ČSSD 22.1%, ODS 20.2%, TOP 09 16.7%, KSČM 11.3%, VV 10.9%, KDU-ČSL 4.4%, SPOZ 4.3%.
Voter turnout in 2010 was 62.6%, in 2006 64.5%, in 2002 58% and in 1998 74%.
7. Polls on Friday, October 25th open at 2pm and close at 10pm. On Saturday, October 26th they open at 8am and close at 2pm.
Now go back to your constituencies and prepare for government…