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Topolánek gains senators’ signatures for presidential bid

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Prague, Nov 6 (CTK) – Czech former Civic Democrat (ODS) prime minister Mirek Topolanek gained the necessary signatures of ten senators in support of his presidential candidacy, senator Tomas Grulich (ODS) confirmed to CTK on Monday.

At the weekend, Topolanek said he was about to run for the post of head of state.

To become an official candidate, a personality needs support from at least ten senators or 20 lower house deputies or 50,000 citizens.

Former Czech president Vaclav Klaus, ODS founder and long-standing chairman, welcomed Topolanek’s candidacy. According to Klaus, a person without experience from top politics should not be president. As Topolanek had occupied top political posts for a long time, he radically differs from the other candidates who want to challenge Zeman in the January election, Klaus said.

Along with Grulich, ODS senators Zdenek Nytra, Daniela Filipiova and Lumir Aschenbrenner are among the ten senators who supported Topolanek’s candidacy with their signatures, news server writes.

Grulich and Nytra told the server they did not fully identify themselves with the political work of the former prime minister (2006-2009), but in general gave a positive assessment to it.

Grulich highlighted Topolanek’s work during the Czech EU presidency in the first six months of 2009.

Aktualne writes that TOP 09 senator Tomas Czernin added his signature, too.

Czernin told the server he was missing a strong political candidate among the participants in the direct presidential election.

Czernin said he asked Topolanek about his former close assistant Marek Dalik who started serving a five-year prison sentence for fraud on Monday. “Topolanek assured me that even though he believes in Dalik’s innocence, pardoning him would be out of question,” he told the server.

Dalik was punished for having asked for a bribe related to a huge arms deal on which Topolanek’s government decided. The controversial Dalik was the unofficial chief aide and a grey eminence and many in the ODS said then he had too much influence on Topolanek.

Topolanek said on Sunday he wanted to ask senators from five groups including the ODS to support his presidential candidacy. He stressed that he had left the party some time ago.

Topolanek said he did not want to run for any party or with the support of any party.

Topolanek has joined the candidates who have already met the conditions to run in the January presidential contest.

Christian Democrat (KDU-CSL) deputy chairman Marian Jurecka said it seemed to him that Topolanek’s candidacy might break the spectrum of candidates. He indicated that too many presidential candidates tried to address the same groups of voters, while there was almost nobody who would focus on trying to win over the voters of Zeman.

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

Klara Peknicova, from the ministry’s press section, told CTK that 12 candidates have registered themselves so far, however, three of them did not prove the required support from citizens or lawmakers.

According to the latest polls, the election favourites are President Milos Zeman, who is defending his post, former Science Academy head Jiri Drahos and entrepreneur Michal Horacek. All three of them received more than 50,000 signatures from citizens.

The nominations have also been submitted by former ambassador to France Pavel Fischer, musician and extra-parliamentary politician Petr Hannig, Security and Defence Industry Association head Jiri Hynek, Skoda Auto’s former board chairman Vratislav Kulhanek, and physician and activist Marek Hilser.

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