Zeman Challenges Drahos to 4 Debates

Prague, Jan 15 (CTK) – The two bidders for Czech president have not yet agreed on how many TV duels they should have before the January 26-27 runoff vote, since President Milos Zeman has accepted offers from four TV stations, while Jiri Drahos wants two debates, Drahos and Zeman’s spokesman said separately today.


Zeman wants to have debates with Drahos on four TV stations, and has accepted the offers by the Nova, Barrandov and Prima TVs, all commercial stations, as well as public Czech Television (CT), his spokesman Jiri Ovcacek tweeted.


Drahos told CTK he wants two such debates, the number Zeman himself mentioned on Saturday after he and Drahos emerged as the two most successful candidates from the first round of the direct election and advanced to the runoff.


Drahos said he wants one debate on CT and he leaves it up to Zeman to choose the other broadcaster.


On Saturday, Zeman said he will stop shunning such debates, which he did throughout the campaign before the first round, in which he faced eight rivals.


After it became clear on Saturday that he emerged the most successful of all from the first round, with 38.6 percent of the vote, Zeman said he might attend more than one debate with Drahos, former Science Academy chairman who finished second with 26.6 percent.


More than two TV duels between him and Drahos would make the viewers bored, he said, however.


Drahos said today that he expects to have two TV debates with Zeman.


“I have already proposed CT as the venue of a debate. It is public media, which belongs to all Czech citizens and its impartiality has been controlled by an independent body. As far as the other [debate] is concerned, it is up to my rival candidate to decide on which media he will prefer,” Drahos told CTK.


Earlier today, Ovcacek tweeted that Zeman’s office will announce details about the president’s participation in television duels on Tuesday.


Later today, however, the commercial station Prima TV said the Presidential Office has confirmed Zeman’s participation in a discussion show Prima TV will broadcast live on Tuesday, January 23, after 20:00.


CT said previously it has invited the two bidders for a televised debate on Thursday, January 25, on the eve of the runoff vote. It is to be broadcast live on CT1 and CT24 channels as of 20:00.


Zeman has criticised CT for long.


“A campaign should focus on opinions. This is just how we will proceed,” Ovcacek wrote on Twitter today.


As recently as December, Ovcacek ruled out Zeman’s participation in media debates between the two rounds of the election.


If held, the duels would be the first opportunity for Zeman and Drahos to face each other in a debate.


Zeman refused to join the candidates’ debates before the first round, saying that voters knew his positions well from his performance as president in the past five years.