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MfD: Czechs have no respectful ex-PM to choose for president

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Prague, Sept 16 (CTK) – An optimal candidate for Czech political parties to field in the direct presidential election would definitely be a widely respected and dignified former prime minister, but none is available, unfortunately, Miroslav Korecky writes in daily Mlada fronta Dnes (MfD) on Saturday.

The first round of the presidential election is due on January 12-13 and a possible runoff vote two weeks later. None of the mainstream parties has fielded any candidate of its own so far, because they failed to find any, Korecky writes.

If a politician spent some time in the post of prime minister, his rivals in the presidential race could hardly beat him/her in terms of experience. Such a politician knows the domestic scene in detail, is perfectly acquainted with the constitution, has international contacts and is popular with people, or well-known at least, unless he/she makes an extraordinarily blatant mistake, Korecky writes.

Running for president is also logical from former prime ministers’ point of view. To what higher post can an ex-PM further proceed than the post of president? Korecky writes.

He mentions foreign cases of PMs-turned-presidents, such as Vladimir Putin in Russia, Shimon Peres in Israel, Carlo Ciampi in Italy, Konstantinos Karamanlis in Greece and Mauno Koivisto in Finland.

In France, this model involved Charles de Gaulle, Georges Pompidou as well as Jacques Chirac, and a “whole corps of ex-PMs” ran in the latest French presidential election, Korecky writes, mentioning Alain Juppe, Manuel Valls and Francois Fillon.

The Czech Republic faces a problem in this respect. Former prime minister Vaclav Klaus was president in 2003-2013, and Milos Zeman is the incumbent president.

Out of other ex-PMs, Petr Pithart and Jan Fischer unsuccessfully sought presidency in the past and would not repeat the attempt. Marian Calfa, Jan Strasky and Jan Tosovsky have withdrawn from public life or left abroad, Korecky writes.

Jiri Rusnok, for his part, has a much more lucrative job of the Czech Central Bank (CNB) governor, he wriets.

Stanislav Gross died a couple of years ago, but Gross, infamous for his dubious financial deals, would not have been a suitable candidate for president anyway, Korecky writes.

Out of the remaining ex-PMs, the “politically autistic” Vladimir Spidla can be ruled out after his poor performance as prime minister and later as an EU commissioner. Jiri Paroubek is unsuitable either with his private family disputes, as are Mirek Topolanek, surrounded with corruption suspicions, and Petr Necas, burdened with a multiple scandal of his former close aide and current wife, Korecky writes.

“My kingdom for a usable former prime minister!” he exclaims in a paraphrase of a Shakespearean play character.

Since there is no respectable or dignified former prime minister on the Czech scene, presidential candidates should be sought on a lower level, among heads of the houses of parliament, deputy prime ministers and ministers, Korecky adds.

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