Friday, 25 April 2014

Social Democrat Štěch re-elected Senate chairman

22 November 2012

Prague, Nov 21 (CTK) - Milan Stech (Social Democrats, CSSD) was re-elected chairman of the Senate, upper house of Czech parliament that met for the first time since the October election to one third of it, being supported by 74 out of 79 senators present in a secret ballot Wednesday.

The CSSD gained an absolute majority of 46 mandates in the election in which 27 out of the total of 81 seats were contested.

Before the election Wednesday, the 27 senators who succeeded in the election took their oaths at the start of the first session in a new makeup.

In his speech, Stech said he hopes that the "correctness, decent and humanly dignified atmosphere" that has always reigned in the Senate in spite of the difference of opinions will prevail in the new term as well.

The Senate also elected three deputy chairpersons Alena Gajduskova (first deputy chairperson), Zdenek Skromach (both CSSD) and Premysl Sobotka (Civic Democrats, ODS).

Jiri Cunek (Christian Democrats, KDU-CSL) was not elected even at a second try.

The KDU-CSl said this practically amounts to a breach of the agreement the senator groups reached.

The KDU-CSL and independents group will probably have to find a new candidate.

Cunek came to the centre of attention when Vsetin, north Moravia, of which he was mayor, had rent defaulters, mostly Romanies, moved from houses to tin container-like dormitories on the outskirts of the town in October 2006.

Others were offered housing in remote villages.

Shortly afterwards, Cunek was elected senator. When he became minister he faced a suspicion of having taken a bribe in his capacity as mayor in February 2002. Cunek left the government in November 2007, but returned to it in April 2008. He definitively ended in the government in January 2009 when he lost his own party's support.

The state attorney's office twice shelved Cunek's alleged corruption case in the autumn of 2007. Three years ago the Supreme Court noted (but without effect on the case alone) that law was breached during the investigation into Cunek's alleged corruption.

The CSSD, the strongest party in the Senate, will head seven out of nine committees.

Stech will be chairman of the organisational committee.

The senior government ODS that headed three committees in the previous Senate term will only chair the mandate and immunity committee.

One committee, the one for EU affairs, will be headed by the KDU-CSL and independents group.

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