Divided Czechs vote, inconclusive result feared

* Tight result expected later on Saturday

* Both right and left-wing governments possible

* Exit polls due at 1200 GMT

By Jan Lopatka

PRAGUE, May 29 (BestGrowthStock) – Czechs will finish voting on
Saturday in a close fought election pitting leftist promises to
protect people from economic crisis against right-wing warnings
that the left will take the country into bankruptcy.

The left-wing Social Democrats are expected to win the
largest share of the vote but will almost certainly fall far
short of a majority and may find it difficult, if not
impossible, to find partners to form a government.

Polling stations will be open from 0600 until 1200 GMT for
the last day of voting. Exit polls will be released at 1200 GMT,
and results will come in during the afternoon and evening.

Up to eight parties have a chance of winning seats and
analysts fear an inconclusive result with a fragmented
parliament and lengthy talks on forming any coalition.

That could unnerve markets — the crown currency has already
weakened this week on fears of protracted horse trading — and
delay badly needed pension, healthcare and other reforms.

“All this suggests that the tough fiscal decisions that have
been ignored for too long will not be resolved anytime soon;
adding to the risks of holding Czech crown denominated assets,”
researchers at bank RBC Capital Markets said in a note.

The right-wing Civic Democrats have invoked the Greek crisis
to warn that leftist promises of more welfare would lead the
central European EU member state of 10.5 million to insolvency
in several years.

“I believe in a success that will allow for the creation of
a government of fiscal responsibility, based on a centre-right
coalition,” Civic Democrat leader Petr Necas said after voting.

Czech public debt of 35 percent of gross domestic product is
just half of the EU average, but most analysts say it will grow
fast unless the next government takes action. The Civic
Democrats promise to achieve the EU-prescribed 3 percent of GDP
in 2012, through spending cuts rather than tax hikes.
Social Democrat leader Jiri Paroubek plans to hike taxes to
pay for his welfare agenda and reduce the budget gap to 3
percent of GDP by 2013, from last year’s 5.9 percent.

A divisive figure unpopular among the left and the country’s
business and intellectual elite, Paroubek’s promise of extra
pension benefits and to eliminate healthcare fees appeals mainly
to older and poorer voters.

“We vote for them all the time. It is reasonable choice for
us older people,” said Jaroslav Kovacik, 67.

Many younger and richer voters dislike Paroubek’s plans, and
are put off by his aggressive style. He toppled a centre-right
government last year, causing political disarray in the middle
of Prague’s term as EU president.

“The main danger is his personality, not the left as such.
The country needs a functioning left, but not with him,” said
Ondrej Olsansky, 18, a student who voted for the right.

Stock Investing
(Additional reporting by Robert Mueller and Roman Gazdik;
Editing by Elizabeth Fullerton)

Divided Czechs vote, inconclusive result feared