Czech economist Vladimír Dlouhý, the nation’s very first minister of industry and trade under then Prime Minister Václav Klaus (now serving his final term as head of state), will run for the presidency as an independent. But the advisor to Goldman Sachs in Central Europe must know there is no chance of a sudden wave of public support sending him to Prague Castle. So why has Dlouhý, a former communist, tossed his hat in the proverbial ring?
Czech President Václav Klaus, a co-founder of the center-right Civic Democrats (ODS) has reportedly welcomed the candidacy of former Social Democrat (ČSSD) prime minister Miloš Zeman, a dark horse in the 2013 presidential elections, which will be the first to be decided by the people rather than the politicians.
A new public opinion poll shows presidential hopeful Miloš Zeman, the former Social Democrat (ČSSD) prime minister, gaining ground on Czech-American economist Jan Švejnar — in the battle for second place. However, the latest Factum Invenio poll shows that Jan Fischer (unaffiliated), who served as prime minister in a caretaker government, would still win by a comfortable margin with 24.4 percent of the vote compared to 17.8 for Švejnar and 12 percent for Zeman.
Czech MEP Evžen Tošenovský will officially announce his presidential candidacy on Saturday, with his nomination underpinned by the Civic Democrats (ODS) from the Moravian-Silesian region of which he was long governor, sources tell Czech Position. He has the backing of the current president, Václav Klaus, as well as Prime Minister Petr Nečas, the ODS chairman.
Czech Social Democrats have ducked a difficult decision over whether to back an independent candidate, a US-based economist who found, and lost, one presidential campaign for them, or opt for a young, high-riding party senator, as their candidate in the first direct elections to become head of state. Economist Jan Švejnar might take the decision off their hands by deciding to stick with his new job at Columbia University.
A change many thought would not happen is now firmly on course, direct elections of the Czech head of state. The upper house of parliament, the Senate, gave the change sufficient backing late Wednesday in spite of worries expressed that it is a jump in the dark which upsets the country's constitutional balance and creates grounds for even more stand-offs between president, prime minister and parliament.
In an interview with the daily Mladá fronta dnes (MfD) Jan Fischer said he will stand as a non-affiliated presidential candidate in 2013 if direct elections are introduced under legislation awaiting approval by the Senate. Popular potential candidate Tomio Okamura rejects offer by Christian Democrats.
Like a cat, the Czech government manages to survive the nastiest of falls — and how the mighty have fallen, and so very often, within the three party coalition of ODS, VV and TOP 09 (the only one not to have a Cabinet minister forced out). But as if outgoing trade minister Martin Kocourek (ODS) wasn’t enough of a problem, last week coalition MPs weren’t unified in voting on tax and other measures.
Czech Minister of Foreign Affairs and leader of the center-right party TOP 09, Karel Schwarzenberg, has stated that he would only consider standing as a presidential candidate in 2013 if direct elections are introduced. Nevertheless, it appears that President Václav Klaus’ spate of recent attacks upon TOP 09 and Schwarzenberg personally may have prompted the foreign minister to reconsider.
Far from increasing the powers of the Czech presidency, the escalating debate about new legislation allowing for direct elections of the head of state have actually been accompanied by sugestions that the president's powers be curbed. The main opposition Social Democrats (ČSSD) have made the demand in several areas, perhaps the most important being the power to appoint the Czech National Bank (ČNB) board.