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Rich “private” candidates likely to run for Czech president

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Prague, June 1 (CTK) – A public debate on who will challenge Milos Zeman in the next Czech presidential election has broken out, indicating that the presidency will be sought by well-off “private” candidates rather than those nominated by political parties, Jan Keller writes in daily Pravo on Wednesday.

The debate flared up a few weeks ago when Michal Horacek, a songwriter and entrepreneur, said he might run for president in the early 2018 direct election. Unfortunately, the debate has been impaired by personal attacks as usual in the Czech Republic, Keller, a MEP for the government Social Democrats (CSSD), writes.

Zeman, 71, former Social Democrat (CSSD) prime minister, is yet to announce whether he will seek re-election for another five-year term, but most observers and commentators expect that he will.

The ongoing debate has shown that Zeman will probably be challenged by private persons who have enough money to cover the costs of their election campaign, Keller writes.

People still remember the financial loss the family of Jan Fischer, former interim prime minister, suffered in connection with his unsuccessful candidacy for president in 2013, Keller says.

The staghing of free elections is becoming more and more cost-intensive, as the U.S. developments prove, Keller continues.

In the Czech Republic, too, a presidential candidate will need a starting sum of tens of millions of crowns, otherwise it is out of question for them to seriously consider running in the direct election, Keller writes.

As a result, a serious contender for presidency may only be a multimillionaire or a person who would be backed by either domestic or foreign sponsors. This is a precondition that serious candidates have to meet, in spite of the declared principle of citizens’ equality, Keller writes.

If Zeman failed to defend his post, it is evident that his successor will be either a very rich person or someone who would strongly depend on a very rich sponsor, Keller writes.

In search of their election victory, such candidates would have to present themselves as a guarantee against the Czech Republic switching to the model of the countries controlled by oligarchs, Keller writes.

It is clear already now that Zeman’s rivals will spend millions of crowns on election slogans speaking of the need for the Czech president to cease dividing the nation and come closer to common people and their everyday troubles, Keller writes.

Zeman’s rivals will also vow to improve the reputation of the Czech Republic dangerously diverting from the highest, unspecified values, Keller writes.

True, the possible new president would not be as popular as Zeman is now, but he or she will definitely stand closer to people, Keller concludes sarcastically.

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