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Babiš backs Stropnický as candidate for president

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Prague, Aug 22 (CTK) – Defence Minister Martin Stropnicky (ANO) could be the government ANO movement’s candidate for Czech president in the 2018 election, ANO chairman, Deputy PM and Finance Minister Andrej Babis said in an interview in Saturday’s issue of daily Pravo.

Babis added that he would not be interested in the presidential post.

“This is no managerial post. It is about commenting on things not creating them,” he told Pravo.

“However, ANO will not field its candidate at any cost. If there is another good candidate, we will support him with pleasure,” Babis said, adding that Stropnicky reacted to his proposal with a smile.

Babis previously said he would prefer being prime minister if ANO won the next general election due in 2017.

“I respect our chairman Babis’s idea. I consider it a gesture of confidence,” Stropnicky told Pravo.

He, however, added that he would like to concentrate on his work in the defence sector now, while the presidential election was far away.

Stropnicky would probably gain support for his presidential candidature in ANO, Pravo writes.

EU commissioner Vera Jourova (ANO), whose mandate in Brussels expires in 2019, said she would support him. She added that she would not like to run for head of state.

Other political parties have also started looking for suitable personalities as their presidential candidates to be able to defeat current President Milos Zeman, 70, if he decided to be defending the post, Pravo says.

“I am convinced that Milos Zeman wants to run and if his health allows it, he will,” Senate deputy head Zdenek Skromach (senior government Social Democrats, CSSD) told Pravo.

Skromach announced his intention to run for president a year ago.

He told Pravo that he would change his mind if Zeman contested the presidential post again as they would have a similar electorate.

Zeman reiterated some time ago that he would decide about his candidature a year before the presidential election.

Human Rights Minister Jiri Dienstbier (CSSD), who was the party’s candidate in the previous election and finished fourth in the first round, did not rule out his new candidature, Pravo writes.

It recalls that the CSSD supported Zeman in the second election round against his rival candidate Karel Schwarzenberg (opposition TOP 09 chairman).

The opposition right-wing Civic Democrats (ODS), whose previous candidate Premysl Sobotka completely failed in the presidential contest being eight out of the nine candidates, may seek a joint candidate with TOP 09 for the 2018 election, Pravo writes.

Political scientist Jiri Pehe said Zeman’s decision to be defending the presidential post or not would considerably influence the election.

“It will mainly depend on his position in opinion polls in mid-2017 and on his health,” Halik said about Zeman in his commentary for the server.

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