Tuesday, 24 October 2017

Health minister loses ČSSD primaries, calls it political departure

ČTK |
12 June 2017

Prague, June 10 (CTK) - Czech Health Minister Miloslav Ludvik has lost the Social Democrat (CSSD) Prague primaries before the October general election, will not be running in the polls nor will he seek re-election as the party's Prague branch chairman, which means his departure from politics, he told CTK on Saturday.

In the closely watched battle for the post of the CSSD's number one candidate in Prague, Ludvik, who became minister late last year, narrowly lost to Petr Dolinek, a CSSD deputy chairman and a deputy mayor of Prague, the CSSD announced in a press release.

Dolinek, 35, and Ludvik, 53, were supported by 375 and 361 of the voting CSSD members, respectively.

Turnout in the primaries was 40.5 percent.

The voters made no changes in the remaining positions on the Prague list of candidates. Deputy Foreign Ministry Lukas Kaucky figures in the second and Deputy Health Minister Lenka Teska Arnostova in the third position.

Ludvik told CTK that everyone wants to win and the result is clear.

"At the moment, I am actually ending in politics more or less," he said.

He said he expects the Prague CSSD to hold a conference in the autumn. "I definitely do not intend to seek [re-election to] the post [of the branch's chairman]. A certain group has won, someone else will be deciding in Prague," Ludvik added.

Ludvik, an economist and lawyer by training, headed the Prague-Motol University Hospital, which is the country's biggest health facility, from 2000 until last November when he replaced Svatopluk Nemecek (CSSD) in the post of health minister.

He joined the CSSD, now led by Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka, in 1990.

Other mainstream parties nominated their election leaders in Prague earlier. The government ANO movement will be led by Defence Minister Martin Stropnicky, the coalition of the government Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL) and the Mayor and Independents (STAN) by STAN chairman and lower house deputy head Petr Gazdik, the opposition Civic Democrats (ODS) by MP Jana Cernochova, TOP 09 by its honorary chairman Karel Schwarzenberg and the Communists by MP Marta Semelova.

Prague has been a traditional election stronghold of the right wing. In the previous general election, the CSSD won nationwide but it ended only third in Prague, after TOP 09 and ANO.

In the present Chamber of Deputies, four of the CSSD's 50 deputies represent the Prague branch.

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