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Slovak press: Zeman perpetuates vulgarisation of Czech politics

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Bratislava/Vienna/Bern/Berlin/Budapest, Jan 29 (CTK) – The vulgarisation of Czech politics remains and the society is divided into two camps, but one can also expect re-elected President Milos Zeman to start behaving like a statesman, the Slovak press wrote about his victory in the runoff on Monday.

“Along with Zeman, the vulgarisation of politics, arbitrariness and reduction of the foreign political affairs to anecdotes have remained in the Czech presidential office,” Slovak paper writes.

“If the Czech voter looked for the lead role for a folk comedy where absurdity, a primitive humour and clumsiness described as a virtue are the required qualities, the election has fulfilled its purpose,” Sme writes.

The political type with a clear European orientation without a sign of xenophobia is becoming a threatened species in Central Europe.

Zeman wins in the region in which Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban only simulates democracy, while Poland is inspired by Hungary in the long run, Sme writes.

Hospodarske noviny writes that in his next term of office Zeman might start behaving like a real statesman, not as an arrogant man.

“Physically, Zeman is not what he used to be a few years ago. He can be expected to devote his energy to the efforts to finish his second term in all dignity rather than wasting it on preposterous duels with his opponents from the ranks of politicians and journalists,” the paper writes.

After finishing his second term, Zeman is likely to end with top politics, trying to enter history textbooks as a statesman who cemented society and left a positive trace in it.

“The Czech Republic is split into two, almost same camps. Its president has as his allies far-right politicians, helping a criminally prosecuted prime minister stay in power,” Dennik N writes, alluding to Prime Minister Andrej Babis (ANO), who is facing prosecution over an EU subsidy fraud.

The unsuccessful candidate Jiri Drahos lost in the election which was democratic, but not fair.

“Zeman was making his campaign for public money and his followers were waging a disinformation war according to the Russian scenario, probably with Russian and Chinese support. He could lean on the support of Czech oligarchs and their media,” Dennik N writes.

The Austrian paper Der Standard is of the view that with his Saturday victory, Zeman has become the most successful Czech politician since 1989. Like no one else, he has managed to guess the mood in society, using it for his benefit.

The frequent criticism of Zeman’s vulgar rhetoric is rightful, but it is only one side of the coin. In fact, the winner of the Czech presidential election is a very capable politician.

“He tours the regions, he is always well prepared, he knows local problems . His latest victory as the culmination of his long political career has resulted from hard work and an unparalleled talent,” Der Standard writes.

Nevertheless, like five years ago, when Zeman defeated Karel Schwarzenberg, there is “a shadow of half-truths and invented scenarios about a threat” over the Czech presidential election, Der Standard writes.

Zeman has the talent of addressing the voters on both margins of the political spectrum. “So far, this has helped neutralise the extremists. Now there is the danger that the extremes will become a normal affair,” the paper writes.

Zeman’s victory in the presidential election is a sign of the Czech Republic’s deep split, the Austrian Die Presse writes.

For one half of the nation, Zeman is a saviour, while the other half is desperate due to his triumph, speaking about emigration.

The Swiss Tagesanzeiger writes that the policy of scaremongering has won in the Czech Republic.

“Zeman’s re-election is a warning signal the EU should take seriously,” the paper writes.

The success of the current head of state is evidence of the deeply rooted scepticism of Brussels.

The Czech Republic is straying from the West and Zeman’s re-election as the head of state reminds of the deep split of the EU, German papers write.

Germany must not underestimate Zeman’s victory, they add.

Suddeutsche Zeitung writes that Zeman and French President Emmanual Macron have all but nothing in common.

Zeman embodies the European geographic, political and mental division. The presidential election in the Czech Republic was preceded by the hope that it will be possible to gradually overcome this division.

The victory of academic Jiri Drahos would have shown that one can beat even the experienced populist Zeman and it would have primarily proven that in the East of the EU, even a convinced European may win.

Zeman, who admires Russian President Vladimir Putin, has won because instead of opposing fear, he was able to fuel it in order to profit from it.

The 73-year politician does not have any clear ideological plan and his power is limited.

“This is why it is simple to underestimate his victory. However, the EU will have no chance in the area with constant victories of those spreading fear and preaching isolation in the long run,” Suddeutsche Zeitung writes.

Sudwest Presse also writes that the Czech Republic is straying from the West.

“For five years, Zeman was mentally leading the nation to the East,” the paper writes, adding that Zeman is seriously pleading for a referendum on staying in the EU or “Czexit.”

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung deals with the causes of Zeman’s success.

The explanation that the winning candidate was elected by people with lower education is not sufficient. “Perhaps the lower education is not the reason for his popularity. Rather, there is the feeling of being neglected by the elite,” the paper writes.

“Although Zeman has been doing politics in senior posts for a quarter of a century, he still embodies anti-establishment for many,” it adds.

“Internal political processes in Prague confirm that something has gone wrong in Central European countries,” the Hungarian paper Nepszava writes.

The EU will not be rocked by Zeman’s victory, but there is the fear that Zeman make his utmost to “install Babis along with right-wing and left-wing extremists in power forever.”

Zeman is proud of being one of those who “try to drive the nail in the EU coffin,” Nepszava writes.

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