Milos Zeman


Presidential Candidates Demand Zeman Stop Hiding and Join Campaign

Prague, Dec 14 (CTK) – Czech presidential candidate Pavel Fischer called on President Milos Zeman, who seeks re-election, to join the election campaign in a letter sent to him and passed to CTK today.


When announcing his second candidacy, Zeman said he would not wage any campaign, would not comment on his rivals and would not take part in any public debates on the issue.


“I do not think it is good that you have not entered directly the campaign for the election of the head of state,” Fischer wrote to Zeman.


He wrote he was aware of Zeman’s tight schedule associated with the post, but it was unfortunate that Zeman did not take part in the presidential debates.


However, some experts say Zeman has been waging a campaign throughout his term which started in 2013.


“Zeman has been waging very adroitly the campaign since his first election, there is no doubt about it,” Daniel Kunstat, head of the department of political science and international relations of the CEVRO Institute, said.


“Each of his public appearances, each of his political steps or each of his political gestures have been determined above all by his efforts to rise his chances of re-election in the past months,” Kunstat said.


Lubomir Kopecek from Masaryk University said he agreed that Zeman had been waging the campaign for five years, but the debate about it was useless.


“There is the problem that nothing can be done with this. This is given by the definition of the presidential office as such and it is extremely difficult to draw the exact line where the representation of the state ends,” he added.


As any president seeking re-election, the current head of state has an advantage, Kopecek said.


“Such a candidate is regularly, though not always, the favourite of the election. This is no Czech specific feature,” Kopecek said.


Political analyst Ladislav Mrklas said Zeman had the advantage that he would be also given space between the holidays at the close of the year when the campaign usually slowed down.


“Zeman will be the only one to wage it because he will deliver the Christmas message. This is another thing that must be taken into account because he naturally has a tremendous advantage,” he added.


The first round of the presidential election will be held on January 12-13, 2018, and a possible second round two weeks later.


In the letter, Fischer wrote that the absence from the debate could be described as a “certain contempt for unwritten rules of the direct election.”


Michal Horacek, another contender, has expressed a similar view.


Fischer also wrote to Zeman that he would like to see him at the Presidential Office. Reacting to the letter, Zeman’s spokesman Jiri Ovcacek denoted it as a “a sign of despair.”


Nine men will compete for head of state in January. Along with Zeman, the official candidates are former Science Academy chairman Jiri Drahos, businessman and lyricist Michal Horacek, former Civic Democrat (ODS) chairman and ex-PM Mirek Topolanek, Skoda Auto former board chairman Vratislav Kulhanek (Civic Democratic Alliance, ODA), Defence and Security Industry Association President Jiri Hynek (Realists), musician and producer Petr Hannig, head of the marginal Reasonable party, physician and activist Marek Hilser and former ambassador to France Fischer.