Tuesday, 21 November 2017

TOP 09 Prague branch nominates MEP Pospíšil for party leader

ČTK |
6 November 2017

Prague, Nov 4 (CTK) - The Prague branch of the TOP 09 party nominated MEP Jiri Pospisil, former Czech justice minister, for the post of the new party leader at its meeting on Saturday.

Pospisil said TOP 09 branches in northern and southern Moravia, Hradec Kralove Region and the Plzen region backed his candidacy for chairman, too.

"If I am elected, I want to cooperate with centre-right parties, which means primarily with the Mayors and Independents (STAN) and the Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL). He said the three parties might join forces in the local elections next year.

After the centre-right TOP 09 only narrowly crossed the threshold to enter parliament in the October general election and failed to defend most of its parliamentary seats, Miroslav Kalousek, the party's mastermind, said he would not be defending his post at the TOP 09 election congress on November 25-26.

Without its relative success in Prague, TOP 09 would not succeed in entering the Chamber of Deputies. The party won 5.3 percent of the vote in the elections, but it Prague it gained 12.6 percent.

Pospisil, 41, was previously a member of the right-wing Civic Democratic Party (ODS) from 1998 to early 2014 when he fell out with it, citing a bilateral loss of trust. He was justice minister in 2006-09 and 2010-12 and ODS deputy chairman in 2010-14.

He started cooperating with TOP 09 and was elected to the European Parliament for it as an unaffiliated contender. He was also elected to the Plzen regional assembly for TOP 09 in 2016. Last week, he became a member of TOP 09.

In a secret vote, 77 percent of the TOP 09 Prague delegates voted in support of his nomination. No other candidate for party leader was proposed in on Saturday. Marketa Pekarova Adamova will be running for first deputy chairwoman, the Prague meeting decided.

On Friday, TOP 09 member Ludmila Stvanova said she would like to run for party leader.

TOP 09 honorary chairman Karel Schwarzenberg said on Saturday he would be happy if somebody like Prague local politician Jakub Leps was the new chairman. In reaction, Leps said he would consider running for the post.

Kalousek said last week he did not consider Pospisil a suitable candidate because his political career in the ODS might block a possible integration of the Czech right wing. Kalousek said he was an unsuitable leader for the same reason as he had been the KDU-CSL leader in the past.

Kalousek was KDU-CSL leader in 2003-06, but he left the party and founded TOP 09 in 2009, persuading KDU-CSL politicians close to him to join the new party. TOP 09 ran in an alliance with the STAN in the elections in 2010 and 2013. It was part of the government in 2010-13.

Kalousek is one of the most unpopular politicians in the country, also because he was finance minister at the time of the economic crisis when the Czech right-wing government introduced many austerity measures. Kalousek headed the Finance Ministry in 2007-09 and 2010-13.

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