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Zeman, Drahoš launching their presidential petitions

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Prague, April 24 (CTK) – Czech President Milos Zeman, 72, who will seek re-election next year, and his rival candidate, former head of the Czech Science Academy Jiri Drahos, 68, launched the petitions for their presidential candidacy today.

Zeman’s wife Ivana Zemanova, was the first to sign the petition sheet for his re-election today.

Senator Jan Veleba, leader of the pro-Zeman extra-parliamentary Citizens Rights Party (SPO), said the party would offer the petition sheets to the public in early May.

Drahos’s team is sending the petition sheets to his supporters and volunteers will start collecting signatures in his support in the following days, Jakub Holas, from his election team, told CTK today.

Zeman is running without official support by any party. As an independent he has to collect at least 50,000 signatures.

Zeman was elected in the first direct presidential election for a five-year term in 2013.

Ivana Zemanova heads Zeman’s election team.

She said she had accepted the post in order to support her husband.

“I wanted to support my husbands as his wife. I am of the view that a wife should follow and support her husband,” Zemanova said.

She said Zeman behaved as the head of state responsibly, having national prosperity in mind and being able to say unpopular things.

Veleba said the SPO was about to help Zeman collect the signatures.

The petition drive will start in the regional capitals on May 2, he added.

“At the end of this year, volunteers will take to the streets of all Czech towns with more than 5,000 inhabitants. They will give a chance to sign the sheets to everyone,” Veleba said.

Drahos wrote on his Facebook on Sunday that a number of people expressed interest in participating in his presidential campaign and they would like to help collect signatures.

He started the collecting symbolically on Saint George Day. “For me, the date is a commitment to fight as bravely and honestly as the patron of knights and soldiers,” Jiri (George) Drahos said on Friday.

Lyricist and businessman Michal Horacek also announced his presidential candidacy and he started collecting signatures during Easter.

Other contenders, whose chances are very small, include doctor and civic activist Marek Hilser, who launched his petition in mid-March, former Public Affairs (VV) deputy Otto Chaloupka, businessman Igor Sladek, artist Emil Adamec, the office head of former prime minister Jiri Rusnok Karel Stogl and activist Jana Yngland Hruskova.

The contenders must gather at least 50,000 signatures or they can be proposed by a group of at least 20 members of the Chamber of Deputies or at least ten senators.

The first round of the presidential race will take place on January 19-20 at the latest. The exact date will be declared by the Senate chairman.


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