Does MEP Jiri Pospisil Have What it Takes to be Chairman of TOP 09?

Prague, Nov 18 (CTK) – MEP Jiri Pospisil, 41, would like to focus on the preparation of the Czech TOP 09 party for the Senate and local election if he replaced Miroslav Kalousek at its helm at the election congress to be held next Sunday, Pospisil has told CTK.


He said he did not consider his involvement in the EU policy an obstacle to the leadership of TOP 09.


There are many MEPs who successfully head political parties, he added, citing the example of MEP Richard Sulik, leader of the Slovak opposition Freedom and Solidarity party.


Kalousek, who founded the conservative TOP 09 along with its current honorary chairman Karel Schwarzenberg, announced that he would not be defending his chairmanship at the congress in reaction to the party’s poor results in the October 20-21 general election.


TOP 09 gained only 5.3 of the vote, compared to 12 percent (in cooperation with Mayors and Independents, STAN) in the previous election to the Chamber of Deputies four years ago. It entered the lower house mainly thanks to votes from Prague. It has lost 19 mandates and will have mere seven in the 200-seat lower house.


Kalousek, 56, who became TOP 09 leader in November 2015, replacing Schwarzenberg, said he would not like to prevent cooperation of right-wing parties due to his “history” in the Christian Democratic Party (KDU-CSL) that he headed for almost three years.


He said he would see the same problem with Pospisil as former deputy chairman of the Civic Democrats (ODS).


Pospisil was previously a member of the right-wing ODS from 1998 to early 2014. He was justice minister in 2006-09 and 2010-12 and ODS deputy chairman in 2010-14.


Then he started cooperating with TOP 09 and was elected to the European Parliament for it as an independent. He joined TOP 09 after the October general election.


Pospisil is so far the only candidate for TOP 09 leader with nominations from the regional organisations.


He officially announced that he would like to seek TOP 09 chairmanship at a meeting of the party’s Prague organisation, which nominated him, in early November. Pospisil has also won support of the Plzen, Hradec Kralove, Central Bohemia, Pardubice and North and South Moravia regions.


TOP 09 must defend its positions in the local and Senate elections to be held next autumn, Pospisil said.


Pospisil is in touch with Kalousek who became head of the TOP 09 deputy group. “We are debating the future of TOP 09 and our meetings are constructive,” Pospisil said.


The TOP 09 regional organisations have so far nominated senator Tomas Czernin for the party board and MP Marketa Pekarova Adamova for its first deputy chairwoman.


Schwarzenberg said at a meeting of the TOP 09 Prague organisation that he would like Prague 11 deputy mayor Jakub Leps or someone similar as a new party head. Leps said he would be considering his candidacy. Former Prague councillor Ludmila Stvanova also said she would be running for party chairwoman. Neither of them have regional nominations.