Saturday, 20 October 2018

LN: Zeman pushed into defensive before second round

ČTK |
17 January 2018

Prague, Jan 16 (CTK) - Incumbent President Milos Zeman is pushed to the defensive, for which he is unprepared, Jaroslav Veis wrote in Lidove noviny on Tuesday, commenting on the outcome of the first round of the presidential election in which Zeman received 38.6 percent of the vote, less than he expected.

In fact, Zeman never needed this in the past five years of his term, Veis writes.

Zeman has almost exclusively appeared in a milieu full of sycophants. His controversial or "courageous" rhetoric was absolutely unopposed in it.

Besides, Zeman is able to win, but not to lose.

This is why it is true what he said about his contender, academic Jiri Drahos, that one cannot learn in a fortnight what he did not in previous years, although he had in mind the technology of power, political experience and routine work.

However, Zeman's own routine is ossified, based on negation, slanders of his rivals and attacks on their weak points. Zeman cannot rely on the people around him either. There is not anyone there who is busy with anything but court intrigues.

In addition, this milieu was considerably weakened by the appeal from Prime Minister Andrej Babis, Zeman's foremost ally, that he should get rid of his crucial men, head of the Presidential Office, Vladmir Mynar, and his close aide Martin Nejedly.

Even with the support of the camp of Tomio Okamura, leader of the anti-European and anti-Islam Freedom and Direct Democracy (SPD), the servile Barrandov commercial television station and the Communists, Zeman's spokesman Jiri Ovcacek, the chief mud-slinger, cannot address more voters than before.

Can Zeman come up with anything but mudslinging targeting former Czech Academy of Sciences head Drahos? Veis asks.

Zeman is likely to recycle the claim that he is the president of the lower ten million. However, this is nothing but a successful mystification.

To be sure, Zeman really has been touring villages and small towns, drinking and eating with the locals, hugging their children, giving the gifts from mayors and regional governors to the back of his car for five years.

However, he gives the lower ten million nothing but the feeling that someone will help them. In fact, the endless election campaign only contributes to the improvement of Zeman's image.

It would be closer to the truth if Zeman openly claimed that he is primarily the president of the upper 500 billion crowns, not of citizens. The open support from the richest Czech businessman Petr Kellner during Zeman's trips to China is a case in point. Zeman is also on friendly terms with Babis, the second richest Czech, and a number of other faces from the Forbes magazine.

It would be much closer to the truth if Zeman told the lower ten million that he backs them through the support of the businesspeople who create the jobs, paying high taxes from which schools, health and pensions are financed.

However, Zeman does not say this. First, this would not sound so pretty. Second, Zeman has little, if any interest in the truth. After the first round, almost all failed candidates decided to support Drahos in the second. This could not be different, Veis writes.

During the five years of his tenure, Zeman became the metaphor of major problems of the present and a model of their bad solutions.

Zeman is a symbol with which to show how important Czech relations with the West are, how substantial the Czech Republic's Euroatlantic orientation is and how empty the rhetoric about the policy of all cardinal points is.

Is there anyone else who would keep repeating the image of an outer enemy, while the Sudeten Germans were only replaced with migrants, Brussels and Angela Merkel?

Who else demonstrates more frequently and in a more illustrative fashion the bad political manners, vulgarity and contempt for all who disagree with him, be it people or facts, than Zeman himself?

As a result, Zeman is not entering the second round of the election. He is falling in it. Undoubtedly, he will try to avert this fall. He will not respect the fair play. He will try to insist on his own rules, rejecting the generally respected ones.

Above all, Drahos will have to face this rather than real arguments, Veis concludes.

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