SUMMARY / RELATED TOPICS

2017 Czech legislative election

Legislative elections were held in the Czech Republic on 20 and 21 October 2017. All 200 members of the Chamber of Deputies were elected and the leader of the resultant government – Andrej Babiš of ANO 2011, became the Prime Minister; the coalition government following the 2013 election consisted of the two largest parties: the Social Democratic Party of Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka, ANO 2011, led by former Finance Minister and businessman Andrej Babiš, alongside the Christian and Democratic Union – Czechoslovak People's Party. The largest opposition party was the Communist Party, followed by centre-right parties TOP 09 and the Civic Democratic Party. Opinion polling showed ANO leading since early 2014, with their lead increasing to double digits; the Social Democrats had been losing ground since early 2017, polling in the low double figures from May 2017. Polls indicated that several other parties, including the Communist Party, the Civic Democrats, KDU-ČSL and TOP 09, were to re-enter the Chamber of Deputies, with support fluctuating between 5% and 12%.

Across all parties, 7,524 candidates stood for election. There were 37 candidates per seat; the result was a victory for populist party ANO 2011, which received 29.6 % of 78 seats. The centre-right Civic Democratic Party was the second strongest party, receiving 11.3% and 25 seats. The ruling Social Democrats fell to 7 %; the Czech Pirate Party and Freedom and Direct Democracy both received over 10% and became new parliamentary parties. Nine parties entered the lower chamber, resulting in the most fragmented Chamber of Deputies in the history of the Czech Republic; this was the first time that neither ODS nor ČSSD won the legislative election. After eight months of negotiations, ANO and ČSSD agreed to form a minority coalition government, with confidence and supply from the Communist Party; this is the first time the Communist Party will participate in national politics since the communist regime ended in 1989. The Constitution of the Czech Republic states that every four years an election to the Chamber of Deputies, the lower house of the Parliament, must be held.

The Government is responsible to the Chamber of Deputies and stays in power only if has the confidence of the majority of members of parliament. Article 19 of the Constitution provides that any citizen of the Czech Republic who has right to vote and is twenty-one years old is eligible to serve as an MP; the Social Democrats, the largest party following the 2013 elections, formed a centre-left Coalition government with ANO and KDU–ČSL. The Social Democrats were represented by eight ministers in the Government, with its leader, Bohuslav Sobotka, as Prime Minister. ANO, the runner-up in the election, was represented by six of its members in the Government, led by businessman Andrej Babiš, promoted to the role of the First Deputy Prime Minister and served as Finance Minister; the smallest party in the coalition, the Christian Democrats, were represented by three ministers, their leader Pavel Bělobrádek held the position of Deputy Prime Minister. The biggest opposition party in the Chamber of Deputies was the Communist Party.

The centre-right opposition to the government was represented by the Civic Democrats. In 2014, voters elected 29 out of 81 Senators and 62,300 members of local councils; the Social Democrats won the Senate election but lost many bigger cities, including the capital Prague, to its coalition partner, ANO. In October 2016, voters elected 675 members of regional assemblies in 13 regions of the nation which elected their regional leadership. ANO won the election with 21.05%, while the Social Democrats only managed to win two regions – South Bohemia and Vysočina – and 15.25% nationwide. The Communists suffered the biggest loss, losing 96 seats in the assemblies; the centre-right ODS won 9.47% nationwide and 76 seats in regional assemblies. Alongside the regional elections, about 2.7 million voters elected 27 of the 81 senators. The KDU-ČSL won these elections with nine new senators, while both ANO and the Social Democrats suffered heavy losses. Though ANO had 14 candidates in the second round, only three managed to win election.

The Social Democrats lost 10 seats, including that of their Vice President of the Senate Zdeněk Škromach. The centre-right ODS had six candidates in the second round, with four of them being elected; the coalition government passed many of the policies, announced in 2014, such as electronic registration of sales and reverse charging of value-added tax. Bohuslav Sobotka's Cabinet was considered by pundits and commentators to be stable compared with previous cabinets. However, in early May 2017 a government crisis developed when Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka resigned due to the financial irregularities of Finance Minister Andrej Babiš. Sobotka reversed his decision a few days following a dispute with President Miloš Zeman over the continuation of the government, on 24 May 2017, Sobotka dismissed Babiš and replaced him with Ivan Pilný ending the crisis; the 200 members of the Chamber of Deputies are elected from 14 multi-member constituencies using open list proportional representation, in which they can give preferential votes for up to four candidates on their chosen list.

Seats are allocated using the d'Hondt method, with an electoral threshold of 5% nationwide for single parties, 10% for two-party alliances, 15% for three-party alliances and 20% for alliances of four or more parties. Candidates who receive preferential votes from more than 5% of voters are moved to the top of their list, and

Vebjørn Selbekk

Vebjørn Selbekk is a Norwegian newspaper editor and author. Selbekk became known in Norway and abroad after he in 2006 reprinted a facsimile of the Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons as editor of the Christian newspaper Magazinet, sparking a major incident and ensuing controversy, he has since been awarded by the free press organization Fritt Ord for his "firm defence of freedom of expression". Since 2015 he has been a member of the Broadcasting Council of the Norwegian public broadcaster NRK. Born in Trondheim, Selbekk grew up in Meråker in Nord-Trøndelag, his mother grew up in East Germany, until the family fled and she was sent to Trondheim as a nine-year old. Selbekk has a cand.mag. Degree from the University of Trondheim in history and social science, he has attended Livets Ord's Bible school in Uppsala and was for many years an important figure of the Norwegian charismatic free church movement. In 2010 he joined the mainline Church of Norway. Selbekk started his career as a journalist for the local paper Stjørdalens Blad in the 1980s.

In 1989 he became chief editor of the Oslo-based conservative Christian newspaper Magazinet, editing the paper until it merged with the older Bergen-based Christian newspaper Dagen in 2008, taking the name DagenMagazinet. He was societal editor of DagenMagazinet until 2010. Since 2011 the newspaper has again been published under the name Dagen. In 2015 he was appointed as a member of the Broadcasting Council of the Norwegian public broadcaster NRK. Selbekk came under global media attention after 9 January 2006, when as chief editor of Magazinet he reprinted facsimiles of the Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons as part of a news story about debate around the publication of the cartoons in Denmark. Many Muslims expressed outrage against the drawings, the publications sparked violent protests in the Middle East, including against the Norwegian embassy in Damascus, Syria, set on fire, Norwegian flags being burned in the Gaza Strip. In Norway, Khalid Mohammad, leader of the Al-Jinnah Foundation filed charges of blasphemy against Selbekk to the police.

Selbekk received numerous death threats, was forced to go into hiding with body guards and police protection. He released the book Truet av islamister that year, which chronicled the events, criticized Norwegian authorities' handling of the case; the publication of the cartoons had sparked fierce debate in Norway as well, after the Norwegian embassy in Syria was set on fire, Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg said that Selbekk had a "co-responsibility" for the attacks. Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre expressed understanding for the reactions in Muslim countries, apologized for the unrest the cartoons had sparked. After pressure from the Norwegian government, Selbekk agreed to publicly apologize "if he had hurt someone's feelings", although he regretted the decision which he says was taken under immense pressure. Selbekk has criticized what he has described as being singled out as a "public enemy", making him a "legitimate target" amid death threats against himself and his family.

Selbekk has otherwise consistently published images and cartoons considered offensive to both Christians and Jews when relevant for news stories, both before and after the Muhammad cartoon crisis. He believes that as long as there is news relevance, images should be published regardless if someone could be offended or disagree with it. In 2015, Selbekk was awarded the Honorary Award of the free press Fritt Ord organization, together with culture editor of Jyllands-Posten during the crisis, Flemming Rose; the two editors were "honoured for their firm defence of freedom of expression throughout 10 years of caricature controversy." Selbekk has written several books: 2001: Jødehat på norsk ISBN 82-7341-936-3 2006: Truet av islamister, about the events surrounding the publication of the Muhammad caricatures. ISBN 82-476-0332-2 2007: T. B. Barratt - forfulgt og etterfulgt. ISBN 978-82-302-0422-1 2013: Korset og Davidsstjernen - Norge jødene og Israel fra 1814 til idag ISBN 9788247604298 2016: Fryktens makt ISBN 9788203295812 William Nygaard