Zeman’s Last Chance to Face Them – Candidates to Debate in Days Before Elections

Prague, (CTK) – The candidates for Czech president will spend the last days of campaigning before the January 12-13 first round of the direct election mainly attending various debates, and some are still considering distributing leaflets and talking to citizens, they have told CTK.


Jiri Drahos, former Science Academy chairman and one of the favourites of the presidential race, said at the end of his campaign he fill focus on debates of candidates, which he considers very important.


One of the nine candidates has not been attending the debates, nor does he feel the need to tell his views to citizens, Drahos pointed out in a lash out at Milos Zeman, the incumbent president.


When announcing his decision to seek re-election last year, Zeman said he will neither conduct a campaign nor attend contenders’ debates. He said it is up to voters to assess his current performance as president.


He has not joined the ongoing campaign, which however, his close aides have been organising for him, including pro-Zeman billboards and posters across the Czech Republic, newspaper advertisements and leaflets distributed to voters.


Despite shunning the campaign, Zeman will be well visible in public a few days before the election. In his capacity as president, he will attend a gala meeting at Prague Castle that is to launch the celebrations of 100 years from the birth of Czechoslovakia.


On Wednesday, he is to attend a lower house session to support Andrej Babis’s ANO minority government before the house’s vote of confidence in it.


Drahos said his team will continue installing billboards next week.


“There will be over 200 of them across the country. Further advertisements will appear both online and in the press,” Drahos said.


He said he is considering directly addressing citizens through the Czech Post company.


Other candidates, too, want to focus on media debates.


“Practically all time will be spent at debates and media appearances,” Vladimir Sulc, spokeswoman for candidate Vratislav Kulhanek, former Skoda Auto head, told CTK.


Petr Hannig, a musician and businessman running for president, said he will spend the days to come attending various media debates and talking to people while moving from one debate to another.


Czech Defence and Security Industry Association President Jiri Hynek, too, plans to attend discussion battles with rival candidates.


On Tuesday, he will attend a debate on iDnes.cz, on Wednesday on Nova television, on Thursday on public Czech Television and on Friday on Czech Radio.


“Besides, there are many separate interviews with media,” Hynek’s spokesman David Cernohorsky told CTK.


Debates will also consume all time of candidate Michal Horacek, a lyricist and businessman, until the election.


“Otherwise, the campaign has been running permanently, with dozens of volunteers distributing banners, leaflets, badges etc across the Czech Republic,” Horacek’s spokesman Jiri Taborsky said.


Some candidates will face each other in bilateral discussion duels, such as the one on Blesk.cz between Pavel Fischer, a former ambassador to France, and Mirek Topolanek, former Civic Democrat (ODS) prime minister.