October 6, 2018 / 8:44 PM / in 2 months

Czech PM's party wins municipal elections

PRAGUE (Reuters) - The Czech prime minister’s ANO emerged the strongest party in nationwide municipal elections on Saturday, winning in all regional capitals except two including Prague, in the first popular test for the minority government formed in July.

The four-yearly municipal vote may carry more weight this time as local budgets have helped to keep the overall Czech fiscal balance in surplus in the past two years.

With 60 percent of the votes counted, the ANO of Andrej Babis came third with 15.9 percent in Prague, where it won four years ago.

The capital’s budget is worth 70 billion crowns ($3.13 billion) or 1.4 percent of the Czech gross domestic product in 2018, surpassing the country’s 58 billion crown defense spending.

ANO’s coalition partner in the minority government, the Czech Social Democratic Party (CSSD), looked on course to have no member on the Prague city assembly for the first time ever as the oldest Czech party fared poorly across the country.

Babis, who called his party’s overall numbers a success, said after the vote that CSSD result would not affect the two parties’ cooperation in government.

Czechs were also picking one third of the upper chamber of parliament, the Senate. Most of the 27 seats contested will be decided in the second round which takes place on Oct. 12-13.

The CSSD will have just five candidates in the second round, not enough to retain the 12 seats it was defending in the vote, making the party likely to lose the post of the Senate speaker.

Reporting by Robert Muller, Editing by William Maclean

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