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Czech Republic - Presidential Election

A Czech Presidential election of uncertain outcome

A Czech Presidential election of uncertain outcome

19/12/2017 - Analysis - 1st round

On 12th and 13th January next 8.3 million Czechs are being called to ballot to appoint their President of the Republic. If one of the candidates wins more than 50% of the vote he or she will be declared winner of the election; if this is not the case a second round will be organised on 26th and 27th January.

The Czech Presidential election is taking place exactly three months after the legislative election that took place on 20th and 21st October last which witnessed victory for ANO (Yes), led by Andrej Babis, who won 29.64% of the vote and 78 of the 200 seats in the House of Deputies. Andrej Babis was appointed Prime Minister on 6th December last by the outgoing President of the Republic Milos Zeman (Citizens' Rights Party SPOZ) so that he could take part in the European Council on 14th and 15th December in Brussels. The leader of ANO formed his government on 13th December. It comprises 14 ministers all of whom are ANO members. The head of government now has one month to win the MPs confidence. The head of State, Milos Zeman promised Andrej Babis however that he would be given a second chance to form a government if he failed to win a majority of votes in the House of Deputies.

The function of President in the Czech Republic

The Czech President was elected by universal direct suffrage on 1st October 2012. To run in the presidential election all candidates have to win the sponsorship of at least 20 MPs or at least 10 Senators or the signatures of 50,000 voters.

The head of State represents the Czech Republic abroad. He negotiates and ratifies international treaties and he is the head of the armed forces. He has the power to reject a bill adopted in Parliament, except for constitutional laws. The president of the Republic appoints the judges in the Constitutional Court, its president and the vice-presidents and the members of the banking council of the Czech Central Bank.

With the House of Deputies consent the Senate can lodge a complaint against the head of State with the Constitutional Court, not only for treason but also if the upper house believes that the President of the Republic has breached the Constitution or the constitutional order. A complaint like this requires however 3/5 of the Senators' votes and 2/3 of the MPs.

The Czech electoral law limits the campaign spending of candidates running for the supreme office to 40 million crowns (ie 1.5 million €) (50 million for two rounds of voting, ie 2 million €).

9 people are officially standing in the presidential election on 12th and 13th January next:

– Milos Zeman Citizens' Rights Party, SPOZ), 73 years old, outgoing President of the Republic (1998-2002). He has 113,000 voters' signature;
– Jiri Drahos (independent), former president of the Academy of Science, supported by the Christian Democratic Union-People's Party (KDU-CSL), a centrist party led by Pavel Belobradek, and Mayors and Independents (STAN), a party led by Petr Gazdik. He has 142 000 voters' signatures;
– Michal Horacek ((independent), entrepreneur, author, composer, journalist and music producer. He has 86,000 voters' signatures;
– Mirek Topolanek (independent), supported by the Civic Democratic Party (ODS), former Prime Minister (2006-2009) and businessman. He has the support of 10 Senators;
– Vratislav Kukhanec ((independent), former director of Skoda auto. He has the support of 23 MPs;
– Jiri Hynek (independent), chair of the Association for arms and defence of the Czech industry has the support of 22 MPs;
– Pavel Fischer (independent), director of the pollster STEM, former ambassador of the Czech Republic in France (2003-2010). Il a recueilli le soutien de 17 sénateurs ;
– Marek Hilser (independent), doctor and civic activist. He has the support of 11 Senators;
– Petr Hannig, President of Rozumi (Sensible Party), singer, composer and music producer. He has the support of 20 MPs.

It is interesting to note that no party is putting its own candidate forward - each political party has understood the mistrust it causes amongst the electorate who prefer to vote on an independent personality.

The Electoral Campaign

Outgoing President Milos Zeman announced on 9th March that he wanted to run for a second term in office as head of the Czech Republic. He is campaigning under the banner Zeman znovu (Zeman again). According to the polls the head of State is due to get to the second round of voting on 26t and 27th January next. His health problems might complicate his electoral campaign however and compromise his possible re-election.

Jiri Drahos and Michal Horacek seemed to be the two main challengers to the outgoing president. According to the most recent poll by Stem/Mark at the beginning of December Milos Zeman is due to come out ahead in the first round of voting on 12th and 13th January with 33% of the vote; Jiri Drahos is due to win 22%, Michal Horacek 16% and Pavel Fischer, 5%. The five other candidates are due to win 5% of the vote each.

Publishing Director: Pascale JOANNIN
The author
Corinne Deloy
Author of the European Elections Monitor (EEM) for the Robert Schuman Foundation and project manager at the Institute for Political Studies (Sciences Po).
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