Prague, Nov 13 (CTK) – The Czech Social Democrats (CSSD) would back a contender espousing values close to theirs if they were to choose between President Milos Zeman and businessman Michal Horacek in a presidential runoff, CSSD head Bohuslav Sobotka said on Sunday, indicating that of the two, the CSSD feels closer to Zeman.

However, it is too early to debate the issue now, Sobotka, the prime minister, said in a discussion on Czech Television (CT).

The direct presidential election is due in early 2018.

Horacek, also known as a pop lyricist, recently announced his plan to run for president.

Sobotka said the CSSD will wait to choose its presidential candidate next spring when more candidates’ names will be known.

Zeman, 72, has repeatedly said he will announce next March whether he will seek re-election for another five-year term.

Sobotka recalled that the CSSD supported Zeman against the right-wing candidate, Karel Schwarzenberg (TOP 09), in the presidential runoff vote in January 2013.

The values a candidate espouses are crucial to the CSSD, he said.

Sobotka said Zeman has been shifting to a kind of a national-conservative position in a number of fields, but in many other areas he espouses views that are close to the CSSD’s.

Horacek has been surrounded by people with clearly right-wing views, which is a path the CSSD can be hardly supposed to take, Sobotka said.

The CSSD has been split on its approach to Zeman, its former chairman who fell out with it in the 2000s.

In the previous election, the CSSD fielded its own candidate, Jiri Dienstbier, in the first round of the 2013 presidential election, but backed Zeman in his second-round clash with Schwarzenberg.