Prague, March 28 (CTK) – The Czech extra-parliamentary Party of Citizens’ Rights (SPO), whose honorary chairman is President Milos Zeman, elected physician Lubomir Necas, a former doctor of Zeman, as its chairman today.
The party also returned to its original name by returning the word “Zemanites” in it.
The SPO’s one-day extraordinary congress is choosing a new party leadership, since the current leaders offered their resignation following the SPO’s defeat in the October 2017 general election.
Senator Jan Veleba did not seek re-election as chairman.
Lubomir Necas heads the SPO’s regional branch in Zlin, south Moravia. In the election today, he beat SPO first deputy chairman Marian Keremidsky.
Necas accompanied Zeman several times as his personal doctor on his foreign trips.
Addressing the congress, Zeman agreed with the party’s intention to add the word “Zemanites” to its name, where it previously figured.
The congress supported the step unanimously, Necas told CTK after the vote.
Zeman thanked the SPO for support in the January presidential election and also thanked the party’s outgoing leadership for their work.
He said the SPO must ponder on what caused its defeat in the October general election. In his view, the party failed because it had a programme similar to that of the Freedom and Direct Democracy (SPD) movement, including its emphasis on direct democracy.
The SPD, nevertheless, was more successful owing to its more resolute programme and leaders, Zeman said, calling on SPO fans to continue their efforts and not to allow themselves to be discouraged.
Weed grows quickly, but trees grow slowly. It is worth descending to the roots and anchoring the party in the local politics. Afterwards, it can try to succeed in a general election, Zeman said.
The SPO was established based on the civic group Friends of Milos Zeman in 2009, when Zeman, a former Social Democrat (CSSD) prime minister, was spending years in retirement in the countryside and his fans sought his political comeback.
The SPO’s constituent congress was held in March 2010, with Zeman being elected chairman of The Party of Citizens’ Rights – Zemanites (SPOZ).
The party deleted the word Zemanites from its name in March 2014, one year after Zeman’s first victory in the direct presidential election.
Necas said his priority as chairman will be to “put the party together,” support regional organisations and prepare for the local elections due in the autumn.
He also wants to choose a personality to run for the SPO in the autumn Senate elections, he said.
In the local elections, he expects the SPO to cooperate with parties such as the Social Democrats (CSSD), while some members want to run on the lists of candidates of the Communist Party (KSCM) or the SPD, Necas said.
The SPO has been closely tied with Zeman, who, on his part, does not conceal his support for the SPO. In last October’s general election, Zeman and his wife cast their ballots for SPO election leader Frantisek Ringo Cech.
The SPO gained only two votes in the given election constituency.
Last year, the SPO also gathered people’s signatures in support of Zeman’s candidacy in the January 2018 presidential race, which he eventually won, beating eight rival candidates, and being re-elected for the second five-year term.
The SPO’s goal in the general election was to cross the 5-percent threshold and enter the Chamber of Deputies for the first time, but it gained only 0.36 percent of the vote.
In the preceding election in 2013, it gained 1.51 percent.