Zeman’s Campaign Lacked Transparency But Didn’t Violate Laws According to OfficialsČTK
Brno, Jan 29 (CTK) – The campaign for President Milos Zeman’s re-election, led mainly by groups close to Zeman with his consent, did not violate the law but its style denied the principle of transparency, Tomas Hudecek, from the Office for the supervision of parties’ financial management, told CTK today.
Zeman was re-elected for another five-year term this weekend, defeating academic Jiri Drahos in the presidential election runoff.
The pro-Zeman campaign was largely staged by the Friends of Milos Zeman association and the Party of Citizens’ Rights (SPO).
Before the election, Zeman declared that he would not be campaigning at all. However, newspaper advertisements, billboards, leaflets and other materials in support of Zeman’s candidacy gradually mushroomed in the country, organised by the Friends of Milos Zeman group and the SPO, which also appeared on Zeman’s website as his sponsors.
Criticising the practice, the media said this style of the campaign makes it unable to find out whose money the group and the SPO used to finance the campaign.
A total of 4.5 million crowns was sent to Zeman’s transparent election account, which all candidates had to establish in accordance with law, but he did not use the money.
The Czech constitution says the president is not accountable for his performance, which is why administrative proceedings could not be launched against him even if mistakes in his campaign’s financial management were found, according to CTK’s information.
Nevertheless, the supervising office is going to compare the campaign’s costs with the real number of billboards, advertisements and leaflets distributed across the country.
From today on, all presidential candidates, including the seven ousted in the first round of the election on January 12-13, have 90 days to submit their respective campaigns’ accounting to the supervising office.
Hudecek said Zeman made no mistake in observing the law.
“Irrespective of whether a campaign is led by the candidate or a group [of his fans], each candidate has to account this as his sponsors’ contributions. If the campaign was staged by a group, he is not obliged to prove the origin of the money involved,” Hudecek told CTK.
Last week, Zeman presented a list of sponsors of the Friends of Milos Zeman group in a televised debate.
“The submitted list is irrelevant to us, since we are not empowered to enquire in the origin of contributions from sponsors…However, we have monitored the outdoor and press advertisement, and if large financial discrepancies appeared [between it and Zeman’s accounting], we would have to react somehow,” Hudecek said.
If doubts about the money’s origin emerged, it is up to “other bodies” to deal with them, since the supervising office does not have the power, he said.
The media which checked the list of sponsors submitted by Zeman wrote that it did not dissipate doubts. The sponsors reportedly include indebted companies and people close to persons with interests located in the East.