Zeman vs Drahos: Protest Votes May Decide Winner

Prague, (CTK) – Protest votes will determine the Czech presidential election result, unfortunately, lawyer Jiri Nemec writes in daily Mlada fronta Dnes (MfD) today.


In the first round of two-round elections, people usually vote for a candidate whom they positively want for president or senator, but in the following runoff vote, the situation is different. People know whom they do not want to elect and they support the rival candidate. The winner is not chosen by positive votes but by negative ones, Nemec writes.


This time, Czech voters have sent two absolutely different candidates to the runoff due next weekend. One of them is a very experienced and distinguished politician who always followed a path of his own. The other is a politically unexperienced newcomer whom anyone can link with a change, Nemec writes, referring to incumbent President Milos Zeman and former Science Academy chairman Jiri Drahos, respectively.


The runoff will be won by the one who will better mobilise his supporters. It is a pity that people will not receive ballot papers with the two candidates’ names in their mail boxes now, as was the case before the first round, since this would make more of them to take part in the election, Nemec writes.


Whatever the election result, the Czechs will have either a president with whom they have either good or worse experience, or a president whose advantage is that people have had no political experience with him so far, Nemec concludes.


Rational arguments and figures have weakened and feelings have gained strength in the ongoing campaign before the presidential election runoff vote, Zbynek Petracek writes in Lidove noviny (LN), giving the slogan “This Country Belongs to Us,” which features on billboards and in advertisements in support of President Milos Zeman’s re-election, as an example.


Experts speak about fake news, but people perceive such news differently, often only as a matter of propaganda or a hyperbole that are a natural part of campaigns, Petracek writes.


In the past, people could distinguish between a lie (hyperbole, propaganda) and defamation (disinformation, unrightful accusation, perjury). In accordance with the Ten Commandments, the former was supposed to go unpunished, unlike the latter, Petracek writes.


Now the Ten Commandments are unknown to most people and have ceased to be people’s common denominator. Now it is slogans such as “This Country Belongs to Us” which aim at the feelings that quite many Czechs have in common, Petracek writes.


The Czech Social Democrats’ (CSSD) face a dilemma of whether to form a cabinet with ANO, and not even the CSSD’s February congress might decide on this as both alternatives have certain pros and cons, Milos Balaban writes in Pravo.


CSSD interim leader Milan Chovanec has outlined hard conditions for the party to ally with ANO, the election-winning movement of Andrej Babis, such as the guarantees of the country’s pro-European path, Prague’s fulfilment of its commitments in NATO, active welfare policy, prime minister free of criminal prosecution, mechanisms to prevent ANO from outvoting the CSSD in the cabinet and others, Balaban writes.


To meet the conditions, ANO would have to undergo an internal personnel revolution. This is evidently not going to happen, ANO MPs showed in Friday’s parliamentary debate on the release of Babis and ANO deputy chairman Jaroslav Faltynek for criminal prosecution over a suspected EU subsidy fraud, Balaban writes.


Even if Babis gave up the post of PM, which he has cautiously indicated, this would change nothing about the proportion of the forces between ANO and the CSSD being 4-1. How could the CSSD keep ANO under control now, if it failed to do so in the previous government [when both were of the same strength]? Balaban asks.


On the other hand, long months without a government enjoying parliament’s support are not optimal now that Europe is going through a period of instability and uncertainty and facing serious geopolitical shifts and security threats, Balaban writes.


Even if a chance of a compromise between ANO and the CSSD emerged, the question for the CSSD would be how to combine its government responsibility with its number of mere 15 deputies in the 200-seat lower house, how to quickly modernise the party and prepare for the autumn local elections, whose results will determine its further fate, Balaban writes.