Friday, 25 April 2014

ODS endorses Schwarzenberg for president

16 January 2013

Prague, Jan 15 (CTK) - The Czech senior government Civic Democrats' (ODS) leadership yesterday voiced support for Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg as the junior ruling TOP 09's candidate in the forthcoming second round of the direct presidential polls, PM and ODS chairman Petr Necas said.

The ODS's candidate, Senate deputy chairman Premysl Sobotka failed in the January 11-12 first round of the election, from which Schwarzenberg and former socialist prime minister Milos Zeman advanced to the run-off vote due on January 25-26.

"We have always supported another right-wing candidate if our own candidate failed to advance," Necas told journalists.

The Czechs are choosing new president in direct election for the first time. Previously, presidents were elected by parliament.

Necas probably alluded to the Senate elections, in which a majority system of a two-round vote is applied, similar to the presidential election's.

"We hold consistent views, that is why we consider it natural for the ODS leadership to voice support for the presidential candidacy of Karel Schwarzenberg," Necas said.

The ODS leadership called on citizens to cast their ballots in support of Schwarzenberg, chairman of the conservative TOP 09 party.

Sobotka suffered a debacle in the first round, gaining a mere 2.46 percent of the vote and ending last but one of nine candidates, compared with Zeman's 24.21 and Schwarzenberg's 23.40 percent.

Necas on Saturday said media support was decisive in the final phase of campaigning before the first round and that some candidates did not receive it. Right-wing voters focused on supporting Schwarzenberg, Necas said.

Sobotka told journalists that Necas made his statements on Saturday as the prime minister rather than ODS chairman and that the analysis of Sobotka's poor election result is not yet closed in the ODS.

Some ODS members have blamed Sobotka's failure on what they call the government's incomprehensible policy.

Outgoing President Vaclav Klaus, the ODS's founder, too, criticised the party's performance.

Sobotka said Klaus has the right to tell his opinion.

"Nevertheless, it is necessary to consider what the ODS did for Vaclav Klaus after 2002 and what Vaclav Klaus did for the ODS after his re-election [as president in 2008]. This is quite clear and no speculations in this respect are necessary," Sobotka said.

He alluded to the ODS's crucial contribution to the election of Klaus, its former long-standing chairman, as president by parliament in 2003 and 2008 and to what commentators view as Klaus's rather hostile and malicious behaviour to the ODS and the ODS-led cabinets during his second and last possible term of office.

The other mainstream party, the senior opposition Social Democrats (CSSD) whose candidate also failed in the first round, have already expressed support for Zeman, who chaired the CSSD in the 1990s but later fell out with it and now he is running as a candidate of the small Citizens' Rights Party (SPOZ).

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