Czech lawmakers change election law to help small parties

PRAGUE (AP) – The upper house of the Czech parliament on Thursday approved changes to the electoral law requested by the country’s highest court, which ruled that the previous legislation discriminated against small political parties.

In February, the Constitutional Court rejected rules that it said gave major parties a disproportionate number of parliamentary seats after an election, saying this was not in line with the proportional representation system used in lower house elections. of Parliament.

Senate lawmakers approved the new rules in a 54-0 vote.

The centrist movement ANO (YES) led by Prime Minister Andrej Babis won big in the 2017 election, garnering 29.5% of the vote, which translated into 78 seats in the 200-seat lower house. It would only win 69 seats with the same result, under the new rules.

At the court’s request, the lower house also amended parts of the law under which parties join forces to run as a coalition.

To win parliamentary seats, any party must reach a threshold of 5% of the popular vote. Biparty coalitions will need 8% support while three parties will need 11%. Previously it was 5%, 10% and 15%.

The lower house had approved the changes earlier in April.

President Milos Zeman has previously indicated that he is ready to sign the legislative changes so that they will be in place for the October 8-9 parliamentary elections in the country.

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