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Czechs go to polls in parliamentary vote

By the CNN Wire Staff
Jiri Paroubek's left-of-center Social Democrats are favorites to win power in Prague.
Jiri Paroubek's left-of-center Social Democrats are favorites to win power in Prague.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Czechs voting to elect government to replace current caretaker administration
  • Center-left Social Democrats, led by Jiri Paroubek, are favorites
  • Center-right Civic Democrats catching up, according to Czech radio
  • 25 parties are contesting 200 seats in parliament's lower house

(CNN) -- Voters in the Czech Republic went to the polls to elect a new parliament that will replace the caretaker government that has been in charge since last year.

The election is taking place Friday and Saturday. Results are expected Sunday, state-run news agency CTK reported.

Polls show the left-of-center Social Democrats of Jiri Paroubek are the favorites to win, CTK said, but the right-of-center Civic Democrats have been catching up, according to official broadcaster Radio Prague.

In a televised debate on the eve of the vote, Paroubek said one of his government's priorities would be the "better drawing of money from European funds," which, along with public investments, would foster economic growth, CTK reported.

Czech voters are choosing from 25 parties contesting 200 seats in parliament's lower house, the Chamber of Deputies, Radio Prague said.

Two new political parties, the conservative TOP 09 and Public Affairs, are both expected to do well and could be possible coalition partners for any new government, Radio Prague said.

The government of Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek, of the Civic Democrats, lost a confidence vote in March 2009, forcing him and his Cabinet to resign.