Monday, 16 April 2018

HN: Zeman is likely to be elected president again

ČTK |
12 December 2017

Prague, Dec 11 (CTK) - The chance of Czech President Milos Zeman to defend his position in the direct presidential election in January is increasing every day, Petr Honzejk writes in daily Hospodarske noviny (HN) on Monday.

The result remains open, but Zeman has more and more trump cards in his hands: his role in the formation of the next government, his pact with ANO leader Andrej Babis, his alliance with the Freedom and Direct Democracy (SPD) of Tomio Okamura and the Communist Party (KSCM), his opportunity to appear regularly on television and unlimited resources for his campaign, Honzejk writes.

Zeman is permanently in the media thanks to his role in the forming of a new government. Candidates for ministers have private talks with Zeman these days and they praise him, which improves his public image, Honzejk writes.

Zeman managed to arrange the time schedule of the steps related to the future government so that the confidence vote in the government would be held shortly before the first round of the presidential election. He will make a speech in parliament on the occasion and he will undoubtedly present himself as a reasonable statesman, which will strengthen his supporters and weaken the opposition of those who do not like him, Honzejk writes.

Zeman can be sure that Prime Minister-designate Babis, whose ANO movement clearly won the October general election, will not criticise him in any way. Babis needs Zeman's cooperation in case that he (repeatedly) fails to win the parliament's support for his government, Honzejk writes.

None of the presidential candidates is able to appeal to the protest voters more than Zeman. This weekend, Zeman addressed an SPD conference and Okamura's supporters will cast their votes for him. The Communists do not have their own candidate and their voters are likely to support Zeman, too, Honzejk writes.

Zeman is given a lot of space in the commercial Barrandov TV that favours him, while the other presidential candidates fight together in debates. Zeman is directly confronted neither with his critics nor with his rivals, Honzejk writes.

The whole country is flooded with billboards of Zeman, yet Zeman claims that they are not a part of his campaign. Other presidential candidates who try to act in a transparent way have a disadvantage, Honzejk says.

The campaign of Zeman's most popular rival, Science Academy former head Jiri Drahos, has been losing its force recently. The camp of Zeman's opponents was further fragmented by the presidential bids of former right-wing prime minister Mirek Topolanek and former diplomat Pavel Fischer, Honzejk writes.

It is therefore possible that Drahos will not advance to the second round, which would be good for Zeman because opinion polls indicate that Zeman would beat all the other candidates in the runoff, Honzejk says.

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