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President Zeman engages his wife in his election campaign

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Prague, May 2 (CTK) – Ivana Zemanova stepped out of the shadows last week when she launched the petition campaign for the presidential candidacy of her husband, incumbent President Milos Zeman, who is aware that this may improve his public image, Ondrej Kundra says in the weekly Respekt.

Zeman, 72, and his election team realised that the family motive helped him a lot in his first successful campaign for president more than four years ago. The elderly man who lives separately from his family presented himself in the role of a father and his daughter Katerina, aged 18 then, appeared next to him in the 2012-13 campaign. The teenage girl markedly increased Zeman’s popularity among voters, according to public relations experts, Kundra writes.

Following several scandals, Katerina has been studying abroad. Her role thus needs to be occupied by Zeman’s 52-year-old wife Ivana at least for some time now, Kundra adds.

He says Ivana’s role is going to be very limited as she shuns media attention as much as possible.

It was no coincidence that when Ivana Zemanova took part in a press conference announcing the launch of the campaign last week, Zeman’s key aide Martin Nejedly, Presidential Office head Vratislav Mynar and Party of Citizens’ Rights (SPO) leader Jan Veleba ushered her to the microphone, Kundra writes.

Nejedly and Mynar closely followed her performance at the conference and they arranged it so that she would not have to answer any of the questions, such as what exactly would be her role in the campaign and whether she would be acquainted with the financing of the campaign, Kundra says.

The First Lady does not want to be in the limelight. According to employees of the Presidential Office, stage fright is one of the main reasons. She is said to be afraid of saying something for which she would be later criticised, Kundra writes.

After Zeman failed to be elected president in 2003, he retired from active politics and moved to the countryside, while his wife and daughter continued living in a housing estate in the capital city. Zemanova got used to her living alone and she in fact remains alone even now.

Zeman lives in the presidential villa, while she often stays in the adjacent smaller house. She likes to walk her dog alone, watch films and read books, Kundra says.

Although Zemanova accompanies her husband during his tours of Czech region, she has a separate programme that is not announced in advance. It can be reconstructed only afterwards, from the photographs from her trips that the Presidential Office posts on the Internet. According to unofficial information, Zemanova is to visit a dog shelter, a local museum and a chateau in the Liberec Region that her husband will tour in the next few days, Kundra writes.

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