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ČSSD not to support any candidate for president

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Prague, Nov 22 (CTK) – The Czech Social Democrats (CSSD) will not support any candidate for president, as there is no will in the party to unite in support of one of the bidders, and it will leave it up to CSSD members whom to back in the January direct election, CSSD acting chairman Milan Chovanec told CTK on Wednesday.

Political parties’ support for presidential candidates has been overestimated, and, in addition, the candidates do not seek it eagerly and they tend to distance themselves from parties’ support, Chovanec, the outgoing interior minister, said.

The CSSD will not stage an internal referendum to choose a presidential bidder for it to support, which it previously planned and whose staging it repeatedly adjourned, Chovanec said.

He said the CSSD finds itself in a crisis that resulted in its very meagre gain in the October general election.

Judging by public opinion polls, the incumbent President Milos Zeman is the election favourite for now, Chovanec said.

Zeman used to be a Social Democrat and he permanently says he cares about the CSSD. The voters will decide on whether he should continue as president, Chovanec said.

Under Zeman’s chairmanship in 1993-2001, the CSSD rose from a small opposition party to the left-wing leader and it formed a government, headed by Zeman, in 1998-2002, and, with other PMs, also in 2002-2006 and 2014-2017.

Zeman fell out with the CSSD in the mid-2000s after a group of CSSD deputies prevented his election as president by parliament.

The CSSD was the strongest leftist party until this October, when it suffered an election debacle, ending sixth with 7.3 percent of the vote and 15 seats (compared to its previous 50) in the 200-seat Chamber of Deputies.

The CSSD will hold an extraordinary congress in February to react to its election defeat and elect its new leadership.

According to Chovanec, all streams that exist in the CSSD should unite under the party’s new chairman, who, on his part, should seek support for his election from below, in the party’s regional branches and in personal meetings with members.

Chovanec said he is not seeking support for becoming CSSD chairman and that his ambition is to lead the party to the February congress, which should decide on the path for the CSSD to embark on.

All streams in the CSSD must present a vision, each of its own, and afterwards they should unite, Chovanec said, drawing a parallel with “Vltava”, Bedrich Smetana’s symphonic poem about a Czech river “where all streams and tiny brooks unite to form a strong stream that is mighty and calm, but respectful and resolute. The same must go for the CSSD,” he added.

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