Prague, June 15 (CTK) – The Czech presidential candidates have spent millions of crowns on their campaigns so far, but only lyricist and businessman Michal Horacek, 64, has already collected the sufficient number of signatures on his candidacy petition, they have told CTK.

A presidential candidate must collect at least 50,000 signatures by citizens in support of the candidacy to be accepted, or be proposed by ten senators or 20 deputies.

All the candidates, including current President Milos Zeman, 72, who will seek re-election, decided to seek citizens’ support.

The next presidential election is scheduled for the beginning of 2018.

Zeman said on Wednesday he did not know the current number of signatures on his petition.

Another candidate, former Science Academy chairman Jiri Drahos, 68, has gained 25,000 signatures. Physician Marek Hilser, 41, has 7000 signatures, according to a CTK poll among the presidential candidates.

Except for Zeman, all other candidates participate in the collecting of signatures.

When he announced his candidacy, Zeman promised not to lead an election campaign. However his petition teams are touring the regions during his official visits to them.

This week, for instance, Zeman paid a three-day visit to the South Bohemia Region. He went to Kaplice, Ceske Budejovice, Vimperk and Milevsko, while his supporters announced petition meetings in the same towns.

They also plan to tour the Vysocina Region last week in June when Zeman is to visit the region in his capacity as president.

Barbora Filipkova, from Zeman’s petition team, told CTK that the signatures were being collected in all regions.

“Only petition events in support of President (Zeman’s) candidacy are underway at present, no election campaign is held,” she said, adding that the aim was to give all citizens a chance to sign the petition.

“We have organised a two-month petition tour all over the Czech Republic where our volunteers will visit almost every town with more than 5000 inhabitants,” she said.

However, she did not say how much the collecting of signatures has cost so far.

Lenka Pastorcakova, from Drahos’s election team, told CTK that the team has collected 25,000 valid signatures. Some 1200 volunteers help collect them, she added.

Drahos is touring the Czech regions.

He has spent almost one million crowns on the campaign so far and has succeeded in collecting 5.7 million crowns. Some 600 people have sent him money for the campaign, Pastorcakova said.

Horacek has collected some 60,000 signatures under his petition, Jiri Taborsky, from his team, told CTK. This figure is not final since the petition sheets are being checked continuously to eliminate mistakes, he added.

“At the same time, the number of signatures has been rising day-by-day as further petition sheets are being sent from 3000 volunteers from the whole country,” Horacek said.

He added that he would like to collect the citizens’ signatures until the very last moment and he believed he would get more than Zeman five years ago.

Zeman is the first Czech president elected directly in January 2013. His five-term expires in early 2018.

Horacek, former owner of a betting company, has so far paid 3.7 million crowns for the campaign from his own financial means. He is touring Czech sites during the campaign, he said.

Hilser has spent some 130,000 crowns on his campaign. He is offering his petition at mass events, such as festivals and leads his campaign on social networks as well, he told CTK.