Monday, 20 November 2017

Senator founds movement for independent candidates

ČTK |
14 November 2017

Prague, Nov 13 (CTK) - Czech Senator Vaclav Laska (elected for the Greens) has founded a new movement to help independent candidates for senators sharing the values of liberal democracy, he said on Monday, adding that his step also aims to stem some politicians' effort to abolish the upper house of parliament.

The new movement, Senator 21, "reacts to the current state of politics in the Czech Republic, where it is necessary to protect democratic state institutions and the basic attributes of a democratic law-abiding state, which are in potential jeopardy," Laska wrote in a press release.

He called the Senate a safeguard of democracy and protector of constitutionality.

"Maybe this is also why it is disliked by the people and the groupings which I consider undemocratic," he said.

In the past, the Senate's existence was repeatedly challenged by the Communists (KSCM).

At present, its future abolition has been pondered by Andrej Babis, chairman of the election-winning ANO movement and probable new Czech prime minister.

The abolition has also been promoted by Tomio Okamura's far-right SPD party, which ended fourth in the October general election.

Laska's new movement, with its exclusive focus on the upper house seats, is unprecedented on the Czech scene. It wants to field its candidates in the nearest Senate elections due next autumn.

In Senate elections, one third of the upper house's 81 seats are contested every two years.

Senators are elected for six years. Laska's mandate expires in 2020 only.

Laska said the new movement's goal is to help the Senate fulfil its purpose of being an ensemble of experienced, respected and trustworthy personalities who share the values and principles of liberal democracy.

It will help such people win a Senate seat and create conditions for their work in the upper house, Laska said, adding that he will apply for the movement's official registration on Tuesday.

Laska said the current Senate is comprised of representatives of the same parties that are also represented in the Chamber of Deputies, the lower house of parliament, which affects the senators' controlling role in relation to the lower house.

Independent senators might change this, he said.

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