Tomio Okamura, the outspoken former representative of the largest Czech tourist association, has confirmed that he will stand as an independent in this autumn’s Senate elections, contesting to represent the southern Moravian region of Zlín.
Okamura, who has Czech, Japanese and Korean roots, is a household name in the Czech Republic, having been the public face of the Association of Tour Operators & Travel Agencies of Czech Republic (AČCKA) for a decade; he is also a popular figure, having been touted as a possible candidate for head of state to replace President Václav Klaus when he steps down in March 2013.
Officially announcing his bid for the Senate, Okamura said over the weekend that his great dissatisfaction with the current political situation had compelled him to toss his hat in the ring. “In a democracy, there is no other way to influence it than to stand and push out those [politicians] with whom you are not content,” he told supporters. ‘In a democracy, there is no other way to influence it than to stand and push out those [politicians] with whom you are not content.’
“We must be proactive and stop being indifferent,” said Okamura, whose mother’s family is from Zlín, adding he that through his campaign he also wanted to encourage other capable and upstanding people to enter public office.
Apart from Okamura, those looking to unseat the current Zlín senator Jana Juřenčáková, a member of the small Mayors and Independents (STAN) movement that is allied with the parliamentary party TOP 09, include Social Democrat (ČSSD) regional governor Stanislav Mišák, former Christian Democrat (KDU-ČSL) MP Ludvík Hovorka and Václav Ransdorf, a Communist (KSČM) representative from Otrokovice.