Vaclav Klaus wins presidential election

28-02-2003

The former prime minister Vaclav Klaus has been elected Czech president. In a third round of voting, Mr. Klaus received 142 votes in the two houses of Parliament. His sole rival for the post, the coalition's candidate Jan Sokol, received 124 votes altogether. Although the vote was anonymous it is believed that Mr. Klaus won with the help of communist votes and votes from members of the governing coalition who failed to support their own candidate. Political analysts predict that Mr. Sokol's defeat in the elections will seriously weaken the centre right governing coalition and undermine the position of Social Democrat leader and prime minister Vladimir Spidla. According to the CTK press agency Prime Minister Spidla reacted angrily to the lack of discipline within his party's ranks in the course of the afternoon, threatening a Cabinet reshuffle or even a government demise if the Social Democrats failed to stand as one man behind coalition candidate Jan Sokol. After the official results were announced Prime Minister Spidla congratulated Vaclav Klaus and said that a government demise was not on the agenda. Mr. Klaus likewise received congratulations from his predecessor Vaclav Havel. In his first statement for the media Mr. Klaus said he intended to keep his feet firmly on the ground.