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Ministry approves bids of nine contenders for president

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Prague, Nov 24 (CTK) – The Interior Ministry has approved the candidacies of nine contenders for the post of Czech president and rejected the remaining 11 contenders who failed to submit enough signatures of people or MPs required for a candidate’s nomination, Deputy Minister Petr Mlsna told media on Friday.

The successfully registered candidates, whose registration was expected, include the incumbent President Milos Zeman, who seeks re-election in the presidential race due in January.

His biggest rivals are former Science Academy chairman Jiri Drahos and businessman and lyricist Michal Horacek. All three have submitted bids supported by the signatures of citizens, of which at least 50,000 are needed for a candidate to be registered.

The ministry registered over 141,000 signatures in support of Drahos’s candidacy, some 104,000 supporting Zeman’s and almost 87,000 supporting Horacek’s bid.

The mistake rate was the highest in the list of signatures submitted by Zeman. In one sample, the ministry officials found 8.3 percent signatures containing mistakes, and in another sample, the mistake rate was 7.7 percent.

That is why the number of signatures corresponding to the average of the two figures has been deducted from the list of signatures for Zeman.

Horacek’s list of signatures had a mistake rate of less than 3 percent and Drahos’s 2.6 percent.

The ministry also approved the presidential bids submitted by former Skoda Auto chief Vratislav Kulhanek (Civic Democratic Alliance, ODA), Security and Defence Industry Association head Jiri Hynek (for the Realists) and musician and The Reasonable party chairman Petr Hannig, who each gained the required signatures of 20 deputies at least.

Also approved were the bids of former ambassador to France Pavel Fischer, doctor and activist Marek Hilser and former prime minister Mirek Topolanek, each supported by 10 senators at least.

The rejected candidates can appeal the decision with the Supreme Administrative Court (NSS) by Wednesday. The NSS should decide on possible appeals by mid-December.

The contenders whose bids failed to meet the legal requirements for official registration are Petr Blaha, Daniel Felkel, Oldrich Fiala, Roman Hladik, Terezie Holovska, Libor Hrancik, David Chadim, Anna Kasna, Martin Ludacka, Karel Svetnicka and Josef Toman.

Toman previously said he will turn to court. He insists that he sent enough signatures of citizens to the ministry but someone stole them. The ministry says Toman’s bid contained only 11 signatures of people instead of the required 50,000.

The first round of the presidential election is due on January 12-13. If no candidate gains more than 50 percent of the vote, a run off vote will take place two weeks later, on January 26-27.

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