Sunday, 19 November 2017

ODS: Topolánek can face Zeman-Babiš pact

ČTK |
7 November 2017

Prague, Nov 6 (CTK) - Former prime minister Mirek Topolanek, who announced his presidential candidacy on Sunday is strong enough to face the threat of a power pact between incumbent Czech President Milos Zeman and ANO movement's leader Andrej Babis, Civic Democrat (ODS) head Petr Fiala said yesterday.

The ODS executive council decided on Monday that the party will not have its own presidential candidate, Fiala said.

He said the ODS priority in the direct presidential election is that Zeman is not re-elected in January.

"We consider his practical performance of the office problematic in many aspects and we wish that the Czech Republic had a different president," Fiala said.

Along with other Czech democratic parties, the ODS repeatedly criticised Babis and Zeman for lack of respect for the principles of parliamentary democracy in the previous election period. They said Babis and Zeman try to get to much power in their hands.

Fiala said Topolanek has the required experience in foreign policy, he knows Czech politics well and is a promoter of strong Euro-Atlantic ties.

However, this does not mean that the ODS supports Topolanek's candidacy. It is up to the voters to make their decision, Fiala said.

ODS deputy chairwoman Alexandra Udzenija said Topolanek himself did not want direct support from any political party.

Topolanek said earlier on Monday he won the required number of ten senators signed his candidacy, which is one of the possibilities of how to win the required support from either lawmakers or common people. He said earlier he would address senators from five groups, including the ODS group. At least four ODS senators signed his presidential bid, Aktualne.cz news server wrote on Monday.

Topolanek was an ODS senator in the late 1990s and early 2000s. He was ODS leader in 2002-2010 and prime minister in 2006-09. In 2010 he moved from politics to the business sector. Two years ago, Fiala said Topolanek stopped paying membership fees and thus was not a member of the ODS anymore.

The ODS won a number of elections under Topolanek’s lead and formed a coalition government, but many political analyst say this era was the beginning of the party’s decline in popularity.

Until now, 12 presidential candidates applied for registration with the Interior Ministry, but it seems that three of them have not meet the conditions for registration. The deadline for getting registered is on Tuesday. Topolanek is yet to do so. The ministry is to announce whether some application have defects by November 15 and it is to make the final decision on the approval or rejection of the candidates by November 24.

Opinion polls indicated that incumbent President Zeman is the most popular candidate, but Science Academy former head Jiri Drahos seems to be acceptable for more voters than Zeman if the two advanced to the runoff election.

The polls did not mention Topolanek as his candidacy is fresh. Apart from Zeman, Topolanek is the only candidate with substantial experience from top politics.

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