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LN: Zeman’s team for election campaign being formed

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Prague, March 15 (CTK) – A team to help President Milos Zeman with the campaign for his re-election is likely to be formed around Martin Nejedly, his chief adviser, and other members of the extra-parliamentary Citizens’ Rights Party (SPO) of Zeman’s supporters, daily Lidove noviny (LN) wrote on Wednesday.

The team may also include Presidential Office head Vratislav Mynar and Vladimir Krulis, manager of his previous successful campaign, who works in his services now.

Zeman, 72, won the first direct presidential election in the Czech Republic in January 2013 and was inaugurated in March of the same year. His term expires in early 2018. Last week, Zeman officially announced that he would seek re-election for another five-year term.

Nejedly, Mynar, Krulis and other employees of Zeman’ office, such as his analytical section head Radek Augustin, are members of the SPO of which Zeman is honorary chairman. The party helped him win the previous election of head of state.

SPO chairman Jan Veleba confirmed to LN that his party would like to help Zeman again.

Wednesday’s meeting of the SPO leadership will deal with the presidential election, among other issues. It may also decide on who will join Zeman’s election team, LN adds.

“Some faces from the previous election team are expected to join the new one. Some directly, while others will work behind the scenes. The team is to be formed around Nejedly,” a source from the SPO told LN.

LN says Krulis is now in charge of Zeman’s tours of the regions that actually replace his election campaign. He says he will not need any. However, he regularly meets hundreds of citizens in the squares in regional towns where he can be campaigning, LN writes.

Mynar, Nejedly and Krulis were the key persons behind Zeman’s presidential campaign in 2013. Nejedly,who was in charge of its financing, is considered the main sponsor of the fight for presidency.

Krulis scored a great success with collecting som 100,000 signatures for Zeman’s candidacy four years ago.

Moreover, he brought some controversial issues into TV debates between presidential candidates with the aim to harm Zeman’s rivals, primarily former foreign minister and TOP 09 head Karel Schwarzenberg with whom he competed in the runoff vote. Krulis allegedly dusted off the rumour saying the Schwarzenberg noble family used Romanies from the Nazi labour camp in Lety, south Bohemia, under WWII, LN writes.

After he was elected president, Zeman took all close aides from the campaign to the Presidential Office, LN adds.

It also writes that information emerged behind the scenes about Energy Regulatory Office (ERU) chairwoman Alena Vitaskova likely to join Zeman’s election team.

Zeman consults her regularly and he backed her when her position at the ERU’s helm was threatened. Vitaskova, for her part, says she supports Zeman. She was also one of the guests to a gala evening with a concert where Zeman announced his candidature last Thursday, LN writes.

Veleba said he would like to use the network of regional contacts to collect signatures on a petition for Zeman’s re-election. Zeman says at least 50,000 signatures on the petition would send a signal that citizens want him to continue in the post, LN writes.

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