Leading with the headline "A time for Change" the 28 May edition of Hospodářské noviny reports on the first day of general elections, which will likely be marked "by an almost certain victory for Jiří Paroubek's Social-Democratic Party (ČSSD). At the same time, the Prague business daily notes "that the ultimate outcome of the elections is still unsure," but will likely take the form of one of four scenarios explained in four possible future front pages, presented in order of probability.

Victory for the right

Scenario one : "A right-wing victory" in spite of Paroubek's win in the polls. The Civic Democratic Party (ODS) led by Petr Nečas will obtain support from the new right-wing TOP 09 and VV parties as well as the Christian Democrats for the formation of a coalition, which will have the necessary parliamentary majority to implement "spending cuts." Scenario number two: "A coalition led by Paroubek" with support from the small right-wing parties mentioned above, which Hospodářské noviny terms a "difficult" option, in view of the "the major differences in political programmes" — the socialist populist ČSSD would have trouble finding common ground with the neo-liberal TOP09 and VV.

Victory for the left

Scenario number three, "Paroubek and the communists": a formation that would have to contend with "resistance" from the conservative president Václav Klaus, who would be hostile to any government supported by the communists. At the same time, the business daily notes that a broad left-wing coalition would almost certainly result in "an increase in the national debt." And that leaves the fourth and final scenario, "a grand coalition between the ČSSD and the ODS," which would inevitably produce "A compromise government****"— an outcome that Hospodářské noviny believes is extremely unlikely, in view of the endless differences that separate the two main parties.

Regardless of the form that it will take, Hospodářské noviny notes that the new government will have to cope with the economic crisis and its consequences: "although its level of public debt is the fourth lowest in Europe, the Czech Republic faces the same dangers as over-indebted Greece, the crisis stricken UK, or Spain, which is struggling with the aftermath of the collapse of its property bubble." The Prague based newspaper also remarks that "Europe is wary of elections" in the Czech Republic, because it is afraid of a repeat of the 2006 vote, which resulted in a hung parliament.

And for Europe?

Looking beyond the Czech Republic, in another article Hospodářské noviny notes that the current crisis will provide a backdrop "for a glut of elections in the EU's member states." On 9 June, the Netherlands will go to the polls for an early general election, which will likely confirm the decline in the popularity of anti-Islamic campaigner Geert Wilders. Three days later, it will be the turn of the Slovaks who have become embroiled in a nationalist squabble with Hungary over the latter's proposal to provide passports to ethnic Hungarians living in neighbouring countries. And on 13 June, Belgium, which has been "destabilised" by difficulties arising from conflict between its Flemish and Francophone communities, will hold a vote that will probably result in gains for Flemish nationalist parties.