Sunday, 16 December 2018

HN: MEP Pospíšil may become new TOP 09 leader

9 November 2017

Prague, Nov 8 (CTK) - MEP Jiri Pospisil, a former Czech justice minister, is the biggest favourite for the post of new leader of the conservative TOP 09 who is to replace its current chairman Miroslav Kalousek, the financial paper Hospodarske noviny (HN) wrote on Wednesday.

TOP 09 received a mere 5.3 percent of the vote in the October election to the Chamber of Deputies, having only narrowly crossed the 5 percent threshold to re-enter it.

Kalousek then said he would not be defending his chairmanship. His post will be contested at the election congress on November 25-26.

Pospisil, 41, was previously a member of the right-wing Civic Democratic Party (ODS) from 1998 to early 2014. He was justice minister in 2006-09 and 2010-12 and ODS deputy chairman in 2010-14.

Then he started cooperating with TOP 09 and was elected to the European Parliament for it as an independent.

Last week, he became a member of TOP 09.

"This was a spontaneous decision. I simply want to help the party," Pospisil is quoted as saying.

He said he was ready to accept the challenge if TOP 09 asks him to do so, HN writes about the prospect that he might become the party leader.

At first, the ideas was criticised within the party.

"I am convinced that TOP 09 should generate its own leader who has no limitations from his political past, which may be the case of me or Pospisil," Kalousek said.

According to recent polls, Kalousek, a former finance minister who implemented some austerity measures, is one of the least popular politicians in the Czech Republic.

At first, there were other candidates for the post of party leader, most notably Marketa Pekarova Adamova, one of TOP 09 seven members of the newly elected Chamber of Deputies.

Kalousek, too, made no secret that he would like her to follow him.

However, she eventually decided to decline the offer, citing family reasons.

Pekarova Adamova will be only running for the post of TOP 09 first deputy chairwoman, HN writes.

Senator Tomas Czernin was also cited as one of the candidates. He, too, politely declined the offer, citing his busy work as a senator and the management of his holding.

Recently, another MEP, Ludek Niedermeyer also joined the party. However, he refused the nomination, arguing that as "a man from outside, I do not think I am the right man for the post."

Niedermeyer, too, was elected for TOP 09 as an independent, HN writes.

Pospisil was recently touring the regional party branches for two weeks. Thanks to this, he was officially nominated as a candidate for party leader by the TOP 09 branches in northern and southern Moravia, Hradec Kralove Region and the Plzen region. At the weekend, he gained support from the crucial, influential party branch in Prague where TOP 09 is the strongest.

The opposition of senior party officials who resented Pospisil's "political tourism" has evidently weakened, HN writes.

"He has done a great deal of work, thanks to which he gained our favour," HN quotes a senior party official as saying.

Many party members have started appreciating Pospisil's biggest asset, his popularity.

"I have been cooperating with TOP 09 for over three years, having run for it twice, in the European and regional elections. I have also won a strong support from voters, expressed by a large number of preferential votes," Pospisil has told the paper.

"This is why I have accepted the offer to run for the TOP 09 board," he added.

Pospisil has pledged to champion the party's ideological focus, based on the defence of democratic values and European orientation, HN writes.

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