The election marked a significant swing away from the country's two largest parties. The New York Times reports the result:
"With 99.8 percent of the votes counted, the Czech Statistics Office said the Social Democratic Party won 22.1 percent of the vote, while its main rival, the conservative Civic Democratic Party, received 20.2 percent. The right was buttressed by the strong showing of a number of smaller parties, including TOP 09, a new conservative party led by Karel Schwarzenberg, a pipe-smoking prince, which won 16.7 percent of the vote. The party sought to scare voters away from the left by sending them mock invoices showing the country’s growing debt. Another new party, the rightist Public Affairs party, won 10.9 percent."
All three parties on the Right campaigned for lower spending, notes Business Week, suggesting a three party coalition can emerge. Petr Nečas (pictured) of the Civic Democrats - the UK Tories' ally in the European Parliament - is the likely new Prime Minister and he promised to build a “a coalition of fiscal responsibility.” He continued:
"It's good news for the Czech Republic that responsibility won over populism, and that the Czech left was not allowed to take power. It is great news that will allow the Czech Republic to avoid a repeat of the Greek scenario."
The Social Democrats had promised higher welfare spending funded by higher taxation of Czech businesses. Jiri Paroubek resigned as the party's leader in light of the unexpected defeat.
Turnout of 62% may have been boosted by a free-beer-if-you-vote reward!