Czechs abroad show record-high interest in voting in 2021 elections

Nearly 2,500 Czechs living abroad have registered for voter cards to vote in this weekend's elections, about 50% more than the 2018 presidential election.

ČTK

Written by ČTK Published on 09.10.2021 09:59 (updated on 09.10.2021) Reading time: 2 minutes

The Czech Foreign Ministry has reported a record high interest in the general election among its citizens living abroad this year. A total of 2,418 have applied for voter cards at diplomatic missions, roughly 50% more than in the presidential election three years ago, the ministry said in a press release on Friday.

Thousands more are included on special lists of voters and already eligible to vote without registering, the ministry added.

Czechs in Brazil and Argentina were among the first to vote in this weekend's elections due to their time zone, from about 7:00 p.m. Central European time on Thursday. One hour later, the vote started in Cuba and on the eastern coast of the USA and Canada.

Polling stations opened in the Czech Republic at 2:00 p.m. on Friday. They closed overnight and are open again from 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. on Saturday. By then, all votes must be cast and elections commissioners will start counting them.

Abroad, Czech voters may choose from the candidates running in the North Bohemian Ústí Region, as the State Electoral Commission decided by casting lots. Prime Minister Andrej Babiš and Pirates leader Ivan Bartoš are running in this region.

Diplomatic missions abroad have registered more than 12,000 people on their lists of voters. The highest number of voters abroad are registered in London (1,137), followed by Brussels (864), Sydney (578), Bratislava (556), Paris (506) and New York (414).

Czechs living or staying abroad not included on the lists of voters can vote if they present voter cards, which they had to apply for beforehand.

Czechs have been allowed to vote abroad since 2002, when around 2,000 of them took this opportunity. Since then, the interest in elections has been rising among Czechs abroad. In the presidential election three years ago, more than 16,000 Czechs cast votes.

The votes from abroad are counted at the seat of the Czech Foreign Ministry in Prague's Černín Palace under the supervision of the Czech Statistical Office. The election commission will learn the first results from abroad the moment polling stations close in the the Czech Republic, at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, the ministry said.

Czechs living or staying in the UK, for instance, could start casting their votes in this year's elections one hour earlier than in their homeland, at 1:00 p.m. Prague time or noon UK time, and they will have a chance to do so until noon UK time on Saturday.

In these elections, Czechs can also vote at the General Consulate in Manchester for the first time, the press section of the Czech Embassy in Britain told CTK. The Manchester consulate was opened in 2019.

The polling station at the London embassy was the busiest one abroad in the Czech general election in 2017, as more than 1,000 people cast their votes there. The embassy says it expects a similar turnout this year, though Brexit as well as the Covid-19 pandemic will undoubtedly affect the number of voters.

The Czech embassy in Berlin has seen a large interest in the vote, as people had to queue several dozen minutes to be let in when the polling station opened. After an hour and half, the situation calmed down and voting continued smoothly.

The interest of voters in Berlin so far corresponds to the previous general election in Czechia in 2017 and the presidential vote in 2018, the embassy said.

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