Prague, (CTK) – Stances of Czech presidential candidates Milos Zeman, 73, and Jiri Drahos, 68, who advanced to the runoff vote, on selected issues (in alphabetical order):
Amnesty and granting pardons
Drahos: He would grant individual pardons for exceptional humanitarian cases only as a last resort for health or social reasons. He would not declare a general amnesty and is opposed to capital punishment saying it has nothing to do in the present society.
Zeman: He granted eight pardons in the past years, mainly for humanitarian reasons. The only exception was pardoning double-murderer Jiri Kajinek, who was sentenced for life, after spending 23 years in prison. Zeman said recently he would not grant another pardon like that. Before the previous presidential election, he dismissed that he would declare amnesty. He also said he would not pardon anyone except for strictly humanitarian cases.
Child adoption by homosexuals
Drahos: Children’s interests are best secured in traditional families, but at the same time, he noted that in some situations an adoption by a same-sex couple might be better for a child than any other solutions, such as institutional care. “If a bill on child adoption by homosexual couples were submitted, I would consider its content and parametres crucial,” he said, adding that he would consult experts on the bill and he would be pondering it for long.
Zeman: He has nothing against such adoptions; says same-sex couples should have the same rights as heterosexual ones. He expressed the same opinion before the 2013 presidential election. He considers children’ living in heterosexual families optimal, but on the other hand, he accepts the argument that when choosing between a children’s home and a decent homosexual family, the latter is to be preferred.
Drahos: He wants to push for a serious discussion on the issue. He personally thinks that there are more arguments for the adoption of the single European currency than against it. But he would not be promoting the euro against the will of most experts and citizens.
Zeman: He reiterated in the past that the Czech Republic should enter the euro zone only after Greece’s departure not to be obliged to pay the Greek debts. At the same time, he points to the example of the neighbouring Slovakia, where people expressed fears before its euro adoption, while now most of them are satisfied. Zeman said last year that Czechs feared the euro adoption irrationally, but that it would not harm the sovereignty of the Czech Republic in his opinion.
Naming of professors
Drahos: He is of the view that it is up to the academic community (universities) to decide on who is worth the professor’s title. “Just in some extreme, exceptional cases, I might be hesitating, for instance, if some serious circumstances surfaced in the time between the nomination and the appointment,” he said.
Zeman: In his capacity as president, he was long refusing to appoint literary historian Martin C. Putna as professor, citing Putna’s public performance as the reason. In 2015, Zeman refused to sign the appointment decrees of another three candidates. He justified the step by their “past misconduct,” including an alleged cooperation with the StB communist secret police. However, university representative claim that Zeman thereby violated a binding regulation of the universities’ scientific board and a government resolution.
Nomination of central bank (CNB) Bank Board members
Drahos: He would like to consult economists and banking experts, including some CNB Bank Board former members, on the CNB board lineup.
Zeman: He named five out of seven Bank Board members during five years in office. He also pushed through the former head of “his” caretaker cabinet, Jiri Rusnok, to the post of CNB governor. In 2016, Zeman said the main reasons for the appointment of the CNB Bank Board members were professional qualities that did not have to be in harmony with the president’s views. The effort to form a balanced board, including experts both in the theory and practice, also played an important role in his decision-making.
Drahos: He considers them fully sufficient. The Czech constitutional system is balanced in his opinion and must only be respected. “A direct election has distanced the president from particular political parties in a certain way and he is approaching all citizens. However, this is no reason to change the powers,” he said.
Zeman: He would like to extend the powers of a directly elected head of state. Last October, he said the president should have the right to propose bills and grant state orders without the prime minister countersigning the nominations. Zeman also wants to make it more difficult for the Chamber of Deputies to outvote the presidential veto.
Relations to EU
Drahos: The alternative of “leaving the EU” is unimaginable to him. This would mean to exchange the own safety and prosperity for isolation, he says. He is of the view that the Czech Republic should on the contrary belong to the EU mainstream to contribute to the removal of the EU shortcomings through own Czech proposals and active criticism.
Zeman: He has always been an EU advocate. He had the EU flag hanged out at Prague Castle, the presidential seat, after he assumed office. Now he is often criticising the EU, for instance, for its bureaucratic regulations. He is a supporter of a referendum on the country’ continuation in the EU and says he would vote for continuing EU membership.
Resettlement of refugees
Drahos: He opposes the obligatory EU quotas for the redistribution of migrants. As far as asylum seekers are concerned, standard rules apply to them, he says. An asylum application should be processed in the first safe country that a refugee enters. He is against the admission of economic migrants, especially from the “countries whose culture is very distant” (from ours). A rare exception might be people trained in the professions that are urgently needed in the Czech Republic, he points out.
Zeman: He has repeatedly supported the idea of helping refugees in the areas where they come from. He is against the refugee quotas, saying they run counter to Czech national interests and that they should be scrapped. He is of the view that the Czech Republic must not bow to the EU. In the worst case, is would be better to give up European subsidies than to yield to the quotas, he says. Zeman rejects the view that the Czech Republic was not showing solidarity with other European countries during the migrant crisis.
Drahos: He considers it a really exceptional tool. He would be only considering a veto if he were firmly convinced that the legislation was wrong for substantiated reasons. He would also take the positions of both houses in parliament and results of the whole legislative process into consideration. A negative stance of the Senate, upper house, only would not be a reason to veto a bill for him.
Zeman: He said before the previous election that he would try to avert significant government bills with which he would disagree by addressing the government or the Chamber of Deputies. He vetoed seven bills during his term, but succeeded only once.
Drahos: He wants to decorate significantly fewer people than his predecessors did in the past years. He would also like to narrow the reasons for presenting orders for important contribution to the Czech Republic. “Personal relations to the president are definitely not among them,” he said.
Zeman: He annually presents between 29 and 39 orders and medals. His opponents criticise him for bestowing some decorations on the people who do not conceal their liking to him. Zeman’s predecessor Vaclav Klaus granted slightly more than 20 decorations yearly, while the first post-communist Czechoslovak and Czech president, Vaclav Havel, was very generous with orders. In 1998 alone, he decorated almost 90 personalities.