The Social Democrats are considering fielding a candidate for the Czech presidency, Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said on Tuesday. The party’s leader said the Social Democrats did not at present see any left-wing candidate who could stand up to the “power tandem” between President Miloš Zeman and ANO chief Andrej Babiš. Mr. Sobotka ruled out running himself. Mr. Zeman is a former leader of the Social Democrats but Mr. Sobotka said he had lost a lot of support in the party over his handling of the current government crisis. The president has refused to follow the PM’s call to dismiss Mr. Babiš as finance minister.
Former head of the Czech Academy of Sciences, Jiří Drahoš, has announced his decision to run in the 2018 presidential elections. the news site Aktualne.cz reported on Tuesday. Mr Drahoš, who will run as an independent, announced his decision at a public debate in Jablunkov in the Frýdek-Místek region, where he comes from. Mr Drahoš, who is 68, said he decided to run for the post becuase he was worried about the future of the country`s democracy.
A poll by the Median agency for Czech Radio shows strengthened support for the direct election of the head of state, the president. Support for direct presidential elections has jumped to 84 percent of those questioned in the latest poll. That compares with 78 percent when a similar poll was held in April last year. Sitting head of state Miloš Zeman is expected to declare during the first half of next year whether he will stand again to be president in elections due to take place at the start of 2018. Zeman was the first president to be elected directly.
Majority of Czechs believe that the introduction of direct presidential elections was a good move, according to a new survey by the CVVM agency released on Thursday. Sixty-four percent of respondents said they preferred the president to be elected by the people, while 14 percent said the decision-making should be left to the parliament. Support for direct presidential election dropped by nine percentage points compared to the results from May 2013. Direct presidential vote was introduced in 2012 after years of debates, with Miloš Zeman becoming the first directly elected Czech president.
Czech lawmakers are due to begin debating a government draft bill proposing to curb the powers of the country’s head-of-state. Many argue the need to redefine the president’s role became an issue after the country opted for direct presidential elections, which gave the new head-of-state arguably more leverage in influencing key decision-making. Politicians both in government and in the opposition would like to see that changed.
The supervisory body of the public broadcaster Czech TV on Wednesday rejected a complaint by some of the station’s reporters over alleged censorship. The reporters complained that Czech TV’s news coverage was distorted in favour of Miloš Zeman during the presidential election last year, a process which allegedly continued even after Zeman was elected president. The supervisory body said however, the coverage was objective, did not breach the law and no interference by the station’s managers could be confirmed.
Most Czechs – some 80 percent – believe the introduction of a direct vote for the president was a good move, according to a new survey by the STEM agency released on Monday. Among those who support the change are mostly left-leaning voters. Another 90 percent of people who took part in the survey said the president should be strictly non-partisan. After years of debates, direct presidential vote was introduced last year; in January, Miloš Zeman became the historically first directly elected Czech president.
Six months after the country’s first direct presidential election, many Czech politicians are already questioning the wisdom of having introduced a popular vote for the highest office in the land. The authoritarian manner in which President Miloš Zeman has handled the drawn-out political crisis has raised concerns for the country’s parliamentary democracy and opened up a debate on restricting the powers of the president.
A new documentary entitled Hledá se prezident (Looking for president) offers an insight into the first ever direct Czech presidential election which brought Miloš Zeman to Prague Castle. The behind-the-scenes film, which has just premiered in Czech cinemas, follows the candidates from the summer of 2012, when the campaign was just beginning, right up to the heated run-off vote in January. I spoke to the film’s director, Tomáš Kudrna, and first asked him about his choice of material that made it to the final cut.
Roughly 850,000 TV viewers over the age of 15 tuned in on Friday to watch President Miloš Zeman’s inaugural speech – 60 percent of viewers in the 11 am time slot, public broadcaster Czech TV reported. The reported figures are preliminary. Mr Zeman’s speech attracted more viewers at home than his predecessor’s a day earlier. Václav Klaus, on Thursday, gave a final speech that was seen by 647,000 viewers. Miloš Zeman is the Czech Republic’s third president but is the first to have been elected directly and not by lawmakers in Parliament.