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HN: Schwarzenberg may leave as Czech TOP 09 leader

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Prague, July 20 (CTK) – The Czech conservative opposition TOP 09 is dealing with the question of what to do after the presumed departure of its leader Karel Schwarzenberg, 77, daily Hospodarske noviny (HN) writes yesterday.
In the autumn, the party will hold its election congress that is to decide on whether Schwarzenberg will be still its leader, HN writes.
During the summer, party members are debating candidates for leadership posts as well as the question of whether their leader’s age and health are adequate for the campaign before the regional elections in 2016 and the general election one year later, it adds.
Schwarzenberg has repeatedly indicated in interviews that he would not like to hold the post longer than needed, HN writes.
This has opened the way towards the current TOP 09 deputy chairman Miroslav Kalousek really becoming what he has been de facto for four years: leader of TOP 09, it adds.
The party representatives in the Chamber of Deputies are debating Kalousek’s successor at the head of the TOP 09 deputy group after Kalousek, HN writes.
Kalousek, the most eloquent orator in the lower house of parliament, holds the post mainly because it gives him the priority to speak in parliamentary debates, it adds.
As the party leader, he will have the right automatically, HN writes.
Kalousek may be replaced either by Frantisek Laudat, an influential Prague politician, or party deputy chairman Marek Zenisek, one of the young talents of the party, it adds.
However, the scenario has been officially dismissed by Kalousek, HN writes.
The future developments largely depend on Schwarzenberg whose decision will not be opposed by anyone in TOP 09, it adds.
According to party insiders, two alternatives are being considered. First, Schwarzenberg will not seek re-election, passing the post of leader also symbolically to Kalousek and becoming the party’s honorary chairman, HN writes.
Under the plan, he will be still acting on the party’s behalf, but without the necessity of making the tiresome tours of the regions, it adds.
According to the second alternative, he will keep the mandate in the autumn, but he will give it up before the regional elections and only then become the honorary chairman, HN writes.
TOP 09 has been dealing with the question of whether Schwarzenberg leaves since the moment of its establishment, but the question is becoming urgent with Schwarzenberg’s forthcoming 80th birthday, it adds.
Two years ago, when Schwarzenberg was running for the post of president, he was obviously exhausted and had to withdraw from politics for several weeks to have a rest, HN writes.
Although most party members do not say so publicly, they would like to continue with the current balance of forces. In it, Kalousek is not the main face of TOP 09, but he is in charge of its day-to-day affairs and political strategy in the background, it adds.
Schwarzenberg, too, said in previous interviews that it would be good to bring up young talents to whom he would pass his position of a human rights fighter, HN writes.
Kalousek, too, has taken up the human rights agenda in the past months, when pointing out the anniversary of Tibet on social networks, it adds.
However, he is much more credible in the role of a resolute economic expert and critic of Finance Minister Andrej Babis, leader of ANO, a member of the coalition government, HN writes.

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