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ODS,TOP 09: Topolánek is serious candidate for president

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Prague, Nov 5 (CTK) – Czech right-wing leaders Petr Fiala (Civic Democrats, ODS) and Miroslav Kalousek (TOP 09) consider former ODS prime minister Mirek Topolanek a serious candidate for president, they told CTK in reaction to his plan to run for the head of state which he announced on Sunday.

Fiala said Topolanek has a lot of experience and understands foreign policy.

However, Fiala did not say whether the ODS would support his candidacy. The ODS si to present its position on the January direct presidential election next week.

Kalousek highlighted Topolanek’ experience of “not only prime minister but also respected president of the Council of the European Union.” He said that none of Topolanek’s rivals had such experience.

Kalousek was finance minister in Topolanek’s government (2006-09).

Topolanek stopped being a member of the ODDS in 2015.

The deadline for submitting the application for getting officially registered as a presidential candidate with the Interior Ministry expires on Tuesday.

By this deadline, Topolanek needs to present the required support for his candidacy, or signatures from at least 10 senators or 20 lower house deputies.

Topolanek said Sunday he made the decision to run for the head of state last Tuesday. He told CTK that he has not gained the necessary support yet and said he wants to address five groups of senators, including the ODS group.

Having 10 senators and 25 lower house deputies, the ODS alone could provide sufficient support for him.

In the 1990s and 2000s, the ODS was one of two strongest parties in the country. Some blame Topolanek for the party’s decline that started in the late 2000s.

ODS deputy chairwoman Alexandra Udzenija told Czech Television (CT) that she was an opponent of Topolanek when he was ODS chairman and prime minister, but that she welcomes his decision to run for president.

On the other hand, Pirate leader Ivan Bartos did not show any support for Topolanek’s candidacy. “Mr Topolanek certainly is not my favourite for president,” he told Prima TV.

Political scientist Ladislav Mrklas, from Prague’s CEVRO Institute, said Topolanek had a chance of advancing to the election runoff undercertain circumstances, while Lubomir Kopecek, from Masaryk University in Brno, is rather sceptical about Topolanek’s chances.

Mrklas said many ODS and TOP 09 voters and partly also voters of the Mayors and Independents (STAN) and the Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL) may support Topolanek.

He said Topolanek is a rival for Zeman but a different one than his other opponents.

Kopecek said Topolanek had vigour, experience and skill in leading campaigns, but many people have not forgotten the scandals around him, especially his close tie to his controversial aide Marek Dalik who was sentenced to prison for fraud related to an arms deal.

Kopecek said Topolanek’s chances would be higher if he was the official ODS candidate with support from other parties.

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