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Pospíšil only bidder for TOP 09 head on eve of election congress

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Prague, Nov 23 (CTK) – Only one candidate, MEP Jiri Pospisil, has announced his decision to run for Czech TOP 09 chairman at the party’s congress this weekend, and he might gain the post despite certain reservations TOP 09’s current leaders have voiced about his candidacy.

Miroslav Kalousek, who is not going to defend the post of TOP 09 chairman in reaction to the party’s poor result in the October general election, said he wants his successor to unite parties on the right of the political spectrum.

In this respect, Pospisil is limited, since he was deputy chairman of the Civic Democrats (ODS) before his recent entry into TOP 09, Kalousek said, comparing Pospisil’s limit to his own as former chairman of the Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL).

Karel Schwarzenberg, who co-founded TOP 09 together with Kalousek eight years ago and was its first chairman until 2015, too, said he would prefer someone else at the party head.

In spite of this, Pospisil has the biggest chance of taking up the leadership on Sunday, Schwarzenberg said.

“He has been nominated. In addition, Mr Leps evidently does not want to seek the post for now. Mr Pospisil’s chance is the highest,” Schwarzenberg, who recently mentioned Prague 11th District Deputy Mayor Jakub Leps as a possible candidate for chairman, told CTK.

The TOP 09 Prague branch has nominated Pospisil for the top party post, as have other branches.

For an official candidacy, a contender needs support from one regional branch at least, but the branches can also nominate candidates during the election congress.

TOP 09’s 5th national election congress will be held in Prague’s Don Giovanni hotel on Saturday and Sunday and will be attended by 181 delegates. It is a regular congress scheduled long beforehand.

On Saturday, Kalousek will address the congress, presenting his report of chairman.

On Sunday, the delegates will elect the new party leadership.

In recent weeks, Pospisil negotiated with TOP 09 leaders in regions. He told CTK that if elected, he wants to primarily concentrate on the preparation of the local and Senate elections due in 2018.

He said he does not consider his mandate of a MEP an obstacle to his performance as TOP 09 chairman.

He is aware that TOP 09’s rank-and-file is weak in some regions and he wants to help strengthen it and build the party, he said.

Pospisil joined TOP 09 only after the October 20-21 general election, but he had cooperated with it for several years before. In 2014, he was elected a MEP for TOP 09.

Nominations for other posts in TOP 09 leadership went to Senator Tomas Czernin and Marketa Pekarova Adamova, current TOP 09 deputy chairwoman who previously refused to seek the post of chairperson, citing family reasons.

Candidacy for chairwoman has been announced by former Prague city assemblywoman Ludmila Stvanova, but she has been nominated by no one.

In the previous election term, the allied Mayors and Independents (STAN) terminated their cooperation with TOP 09.

TOP 09 lost many voters in the previous term. In the October elections, it only narrowly crossed the 5-percent threshold and gained seven seats in the 200-seat lower house of parliament, compared to its 26 seats in the previous term. TOP 09 deputy chairpersons Marek Zenisek and Leos Heger failed to enter parliament. Another deputy chairwoman, Jitka Chalankova, did not run in the elections. Kalousek, Schwarzenberg and Pekarova Adamova were all re-elected deputies.

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