Most people in the Czech Republic know that the first round of Czech Presidential Elections have taken place recently, and that there were a lot of interesting candidates. However, there can only be one winner. :)
So, what were the results and who are the two remaining candidates, what do they stand for, and what will their role be in Czech Republic as President?
First, we should understand the role of the President in the Czech Republic because it differs from its neighboring countries.
Czech president has a considerable role in political affairs. His powers are exercised with signatures in partnership with the Prime Minister. The political issue responsibility is often shared between both offices, such as foreign relations policies, use of military, and granting amnesty.
The Czech constitution was set up so that the PM was de facto head of state. However, with first President Vaclav Havel, he exercised his power more than initially intended by the constitution. The Presidents most significant power is the veto, and also his role in appointing officers to high authority offices, like the constitutional court.
On January 11-12th of this year the Czechs voted in the first direct presidential elections. In the first round the Czechs could choose from a selection of 9 candidates: Journalist and member of Euro Parliament Jana Bobošíková, Lawyer/Senator Jiří Dienstbier Jr., Former PM of CR, Jan Fischer, Artist/Chamber of Deputies of CR Táňa Fischerová, Artist/Professor, better known for his tattoo’s, Vladimír Franz, Member of EU Parliament Zuzana Roithová, Prince/Minister for Foreign Affairs Karel Schwarzenberg, Doctor/Former President of Senate Přemysl Sobotka, economist/Former PM of CR Miloš Zeman.
The turnout at the polls reached 61.3 percent.
By the end of the first round, the two front leaders Karel Schwarzenberg of the TOP 09 Party, and the front runner with a Miloš Zeman of the Party of the Civic Right will be competing to be President Václav Klaus successor. (Since neither candidate reached the 50% threshold during the first round, a second round will be held in two weeks.)
Jan Fischer finished 3rd, Jiří Dienstbier finished 4th, Vladimir Franz 5th, Christian Democrat MEP Zuzana Roithová just garnered below 5 percent to finish 6th, followed by independent Taťana Fischerová, Civic Democrat Přemysl Sobotka, and Jana Bobošíková of the populist Sovereignty party.
The Two Finalist
The two finalist represent a competition between the “Right” and the “(Centre) Left”
Zeman, 68, has been an opposition to Václav Klaus in his political career. He was the Prime Minister of the Czech Republic between 1998-2002, leaders of the Czech Social Democratic Party, and served on the Chamber of Deputies.
After leaving the Czech Social Democratic Party he founded the Party of Civic Rights, a social democratic party. The party stands for the “successful history” in the past, traditional (conservative) values, & skeptic of the E.U.
Zeman has been the source of several controversial statements, with the position that global warming is not man made, and more significantly when referring to Islam, said “The enemy is the anti-civilization spreading from North Africa to Indonesia. Two billion people live in it.”
Zeman won 24.21% of the vote in the first round.
Next up, we have Schwarzenberg, 75, Prince of Schwarzenberg. He has been a member of the Minister for Foreign Affairs (2007-2009), As well as senator from Prague (2004-2010) in May 2010, he was elected to the Chamber of Deputies.
In his early career, he was active in Austria’s politics as part of the conservative Austrian Peoples Party. He was also an advocate in human rights, acting as chairman for International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights. He became involved in Czech Politics in the early 1990s (then Czechoslovakia) as Chancellor for Vaclav Havel.
The TOP 09 (meaning “Tradition Responsibility Prosperity 09”) fiscally conservative, supporter of the free market, and the EU. The second strongest right wing party in the Czech Republic. (Behind the Civic Democrats)
Schwarzenberg won 23.40% of the vote in the first round.
Both candidates have ran a strong political campaign, and most ‘experts’ are anticipating a very close race between the two candidates.
At the completion of the first round, Schwarzenberg stood in front of his supporters and campaign employees and referred to Zeman as a “man of the past.” However, Zeman fights back in his campaign by reminding voters of Schwarzenberg’s unpopular political policies.
Perhaps the deciding voters will be those who voted for 3rd and 4th place candidates Jan Fischer, and Jiří Dientsbier, and where they will place their support in the second round.
January 25th and 26th (Friday and Saturday) will be the second round of voting.
Who would you vote for if you were a Czech Citizen, and if you are a Czech citizen, will you share with us your thoughts, and who you will be voting for and why? :)
Please feel encouraged to correct any information, or add anything you think is important for the reader and the voter. :)