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Office: Collection of signatures is part of presidential campaign

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Prague, Aug 30 (CTK) – The collection of signatures of voters in support of one’s presidential candidacy is part of the campaign, Jan Outly, from the new Office supervising the financing of political parties, said on Wednesday.

“If somebody collects signatures, they should have an election account and be considered a future candidate who is waging a campaign already now,” Outly said.

This concerns the position of incumbent President Milos Zeman who seeks re-election but said he has been waging no campaign. However, people have been signing the petition in support of his candidacy, he has been touring all parts of the country and is being regularly interviewed on a private television channel.

Zeman’ rival Michal Horacek, a former owner of a betting company, said practically everything a candidate does can be considered a part of the campaign. He said all his expenditures are included in his transparent bank account.

Former Science Academy head Jiri Drahos, another serious candidate, also presents the collection of signatures as part of the costs, his spokesman Lenka Pastorcakova told CTK.

Both Horacek and Drahos have sdet up a special election bank account some time ago, after they officially announced their plan to run for president.

Zeman has not set up the account yet.

The direct election of Czech president will be held next January. The election date was promulgated on Monday. Under the law, the candidates must set up an election account by next Monday and let the office supervising the financing know about it.

The ceiling for the costs of the campaign is 40 million crowns for each candidate. The two candidates advancing to the possible runoff may spend further 10 million crowns between the first and second rounds.

Those who want to run for the head of state must submit their applications to the Interior Ministry by November 7.

The office’s head Vojtech Weiss said his team is to have rather a preventative role because the rules set by law are too general and unclear.

“We are learning on the way and some of our present stances definitely would be corrected in future,” Weiss said.

Senate deputy chairman Jaroslav Kubera (Civic Democrats, ODS) who is considering running for president said the office has six employees but it would need 300 to perform all of its duties.

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