Sunday, 19 November 2017

Babiš: ANO not to field candidate in presidential election

ČTK |
25 October 2017

Prague, Oct 24 (CTK) - The Czech ANO movement will not field its own candidate in the direct presidential election due in January, its chairman Andrej Babis said on Tuesday, adding that ANO is not debating the issue now but prefers focusing on the setup of the newly-elected lower house of parliament.

In last weekend's general election, ANO scored a sweeping victory, gaining 78 mandates in the 200-seat Chamber of Deputies.

"It is actually sheer nonsense [for ANO] to field someone [in the presidential race]. I don't think anybody would vote for a [candidate for] president based on Babis's advice," Babis said.

He said the presidential election is not an issue now. If an ANO member wanted to be president, he would have to "do brutal lots of field work," Babis said, probably meaning a demanding election campaign.

"Like me and my hard work in the campaign [preceding the October 20-21 general election]," he added.

In the spring, Babis did not rule out that ANO might field its presidential candidate. He said ANO would discuss its approach after the general election.

In the spring, he said ANO's internal referendum will decide on its approach to the presidential election.

On Tuesday, Babis said the referendum, if the ANO board recommends it, will offer a choice from the current contenders for the post of president. The board is scheduled to meet on Wednesday next week.

The incumbent president, Milos Zeman, will seek re-election for another five-year term.

Babis has repeatedly dismissed speculations about the existing agreement on mutual support between him and Zeman.

Zeman's most promising or best-known rivals in the race are former Sciences Academy head Jiri Drahos, entrepreneur and lyricist Michal Horacek, former ambassador Pavel Fischer, former Skoda Auto head Vratislav Kulhanek and Defence and Security Industry Association head Jiri Hynek.

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