Tuesday, 23 May 2017

LN: PM Sobotka courting Zeman

ČTK |
4 January 2017

Prague, Jan 3 (CTK) - Czech PM and Social Democrat (CSSD) chairman Bohuslav Sobotka is courting President Milos Zeman, a former Social Democrat leader, before the party's election congress in March, daily Lidove noviny (LN) writes yesterday.
Sobotka wants the party members to express their view of Zeman's possible repeated candidature, LN writes.
Last November, Sobotka rejected a party referendum on the choice of the presidential candidate, but he has changed his mind, it adds.
"We will wait and see whether Zeman will announce his candidature. If he does, our members will express their view of him, as they will of other candidates," Sobotka told the public broadcaster Czech Television at the beginning of the year.
Sobotka continues with the trend of reconciliation with the current head of state, LN writes.
In November, he paid an unexpected visit to Zeman in order to consult him on the prepared government reshuffle, it adds.
The relationship with Zeman has been hostile on the part of Sobotka and some senior Social Democrats since the Zeman's failed candidature and their "betrayal" in the 2003 presidential election.
Though Zeman was the Social Democrat candidate, some lawmakers did not support him in his duel with Vaclav Klaus, who was eventually elected president, in 2003. At that time, the president was elected by both houses of the parliament. Now he is elected directly.
The next presidential election is set for 2018.
The party does not need any squabble with Zeman, a popular figure, before the autumn election to the Chamber of Deputies, LN writes,
Sobotka, too, realises this as he has to raise the party's approval rating which has fallen to the dismal 15 percent, it adds.
The key to the success lies in the leftist electorate with which Zeman is highly popular. In fact, Finance Minister Andrej Babis' ANO also wants to win over leftist voters, LN writes.
Sobotka's strategy is welcomed in the party.
"It would be beneficial to the Social Democrats if there were a reconciliation with Zeman," Social Democrat lawmaker Jan Birke has said.
"Having a row with Zeman would be bad for our party in the campaign," he added.
Zeman has appeared in a unique situation. Instead of seeking support for his candidature, he is being courted by politicians, LN writes.
Babis, too, wants to have a friendly relationship with him. In fact, it will be Zeman who will appoint the next prime minister, it adds.
According to the latest polls, ANO is very likely to win the next election to the Chamber of Deputies.

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