Prague, Dec 29 (CTK) – Followers of Czech President Milos Zeman dream of his victory in the first round of the 2018 election, while Zeman’s critics hope somebody will defeat him, yet it may happen that Zeman will not be defending the post due to his bad health, weekly Reflex writes in its issue out on Thursday.

The strong camp of Zeman’s admirers believes that their idol can win a majority support in the first round of the election, Reflex writes.

The possible second round of the election poses the risk of voters of the other candidates joining forces against Zeman.

Reflex writes that those who dislike Zeman believe that some “anti-Zeman” will appear – somebody like businessman and philanthropist Andrej Kiska who defeated popular political leader Robert Fico and became Slovak president in 2014.

During his recent presidential visit to Portugal, the 72-year-old Zeman collapsed. Nobody has detailed information about his health condition because the team of doctors that took care of the president’s health was dissolved last year, Reflex writes.

Zeman said he would announce in March 2017 whether he is going to be defending his post in the early 2018 presidential election.

If Zeman does not run for president for the second time, it might seem that nothing can stop the billionaire Andrej Babis, leader of the ANO movement, from choosing his own candidate, paying a large campaign, making the candidate highly popular thanks to help from his media outlets and turning him into the next president, Reflex writes.

However, the first direct election of the Czech head of state in 2013 showed that people clearly prefer candidates with an impressive life story to political nominees – and the ANO movement has only one such strong candidate, Babis himself. Babis would not run for president because he considers the post weak, Reflex writes.

It writes that Babis may change his mind if other parties managed to push ANO into the opposition after the late 2017 general election. By becoming president, Babis would take revenge on them.

Yet Babis might not succeed in the presidential election if he takes part in it: first, he was born in Slovakia, and second, he was an active communist before 1989. Czech voters minded neither of this in the general election, but the presidential election is a very different situation as the president is considered a symbol of the state, Reflex writes.

Until now, Babis has been testing his own presidential candidate, Defence Minister Martin Stropnicky (ANO).

If neither Zeman nor Babis run for president, a lot of people are likely to compete for the post in hope of winning. There would be several left-wing candidates who would try to appeal to Zeman’s voters, such as socialist veteran Zdenek Skromach (Social Democrats, CSSD), senator Jan Veleba who leads the small “Zemanist” Party of Citizens’ Rights (SPO) or anti-Islamist fighter Tomio Okamura, Reflex writes.

The CSSD’s liberal wing headed by Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka would definitely produce its own candidate in reaction to this, for example philosopher Erazim Kohak.

Economist Jan Svejnar who faced Vaclav Klaus in the 2008 presidential election seems ready to compete for Czech president anytime, Reflex writes.

If Zeman retires from politics, many hesitant personalities from the anti-Zeman camp might decide to run for president as well, Reflex writes, mentioning economist Vladimir Dlouhy, People in Need director Simon Panek, Catholic priest Tomas Halik, General Petr Pavel and former Senate chairman Petr Pithart (Christian Democrats, KDU-CSL).

Candidates without any political support such as musician Michal Horacek, doctor Marek Hilser and former diplomat Petr Kolar would have more courage in such a situation, too.

This would force centre-right parties to field their own candidates to prevent some such personality from attracting their voters and trying to keep their support after the presidential election by forming a political grouping.

The KDU-CSL talk about Czech Academy of Sciences outgoing head Jiri Drahos, the Civic Democrats (ODS) might support their senator Jaroslav Kubera or their former parliament chairwoman Miroslava Nemcova, and TOP 09 might back its MEP Jiri Pospisil, Reflex writes.

If Zeman is not defending his post, two dozen candidates may run for it, which means that a candidate with a rather low support might advance to the runoff round. The representative of the camp that is the least fragmented might therefore have a chance, Reflex writes.

It might happen that somebody like Communist (KSCM) politician Jiri Dolejs or anti-Islamist pop singer Tomas Ortel advances. Without Zeman and Babis, nearly anybody may become the next Czech president, the weekly concludes.