Czech presidential election system

02-12-2002

There seems to be certain confusion around what Mr. Zeman meant by saying he would step in in case the other presidential candidates fail. The media interpret it differently - some papers say Zeman would enter the second round of the election, others call it a second vote, yet others a second election. So, how does the presidential election work?

The president in the Czech Republic is elected for five years, and one person can only serve two terms in office. President Vaclav Havel's final term expires on January 31, 2003, and the election must take place within the last 30 days of his presidency.

The president is elected by both houses of parliament - the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate, at their joint session. Each presidential candidate has to be backed by at least ten deputies or ten senators, candidates can only be Czech citizens over 40 years of age who are eligible to vote.

Although the president is elected jointly by both houses of parliament, the votes are counted separately - the lower house has 200 seats, the senate only 81. In order to be elected, a candidate needs to win the majority of votes in each house.

If none of the candidates is elected in the first round, the two who got the most votes proceed to the second round, and if they do not succeed again, there is the third round, where the MPs vote only on the candidate who came first in the second round.

What Mr. Zeman meant by saying that he would enter the second election is that he would only take part in a new presidential election which will take place if the parliament three times fails to choose from the given candidates.

02-12-2002