Tuesday, 23 October 2018

SPD leader Okamura not to run for Czech president

7 November 2017

Lany, Central Bohemia, Nov 6 (CTK) - The Freedom and Direct Democracy (SPD) movement will not have its own candidate for Czech president, its leader Tomio Okamura, who ran for the head of state five years ago, told journalists after his talks with President Milos Zeman on Monday.

The deadline for candidates to register for the January direct presidential election expires on Tuesday. Okamura previously spoke of his presidential ambition. Zeman, who seeks re-election, said some time ago that Okamura would not become president if he ran for the post but that his candidacy would take about 10 percent of voters from Zeman.

Political commentators said Okamura may use his potential candidacy as a threat and make some bargain with Zeman who may have big influence on the political developments after the recent general election.

The anti-Islam and anti-immigrant SPD, which some label extremist, was represented by Okamura and its deputy chairman Radim Fiala at the Lany presidential chateau on Monday.

Okamura said the SPD would say which presidential candidate it was going to support, if any, by December 9 when the movement holds a national conference.

He said the SPD wants the candidate to have a realistic chance of winning, to oppose Islam and be against the accepting of illegal migrants, to promote direct democracy and defend Czech interests. "We agreed that a candidate who would not meet these conditions is unacceptable for us," Okamura said on behalf of the SPD.

Zeman, who sharply criticised Islam and the European migration policy, might meet the conditions, while Science Academy former head Jiri Drahos and entrepreneur Michal Horacek who are considered Zeman's serious rivals would not fit these criteria.

Okamura also said they agreed with Zeman that a government that does not win confidence from the Chamber of Deputies should not rule the country for a long time.

"The president explained to us that he did not promote a government without confidence, but that it merely is a theoretical possibility that the constitution makes possible," he said.

In 2013, Zeman appointed a caretaker cabinet and let it rule the country for nearly six months even though it lost the confidence vote in the Chamber of Deputies.

Okamura repeatedly said that the SPD would not support a minority cabinet that ANO leader Andrej Babis is forming. "We clearly declared that we will not support this government and it is up to Babis only whether he can find the support or not," he said.

Babis has not presented any government project that would be viable and reflect the SPD programme, he added.

Okamura said it is unacceptable for ANO which won only 30 percent of the vote to have all the executive power including influence on the police and military.

Okamura said the president should appoint Babis prime minister by the end of November and Babis is to present the government lineup within a month and the vote of confidence in this government might be held at the end of the year or in January. This would mean that the possible second attempt at forming a new government would come after the presidential election, he said.

The SPD and Zeman agreed that the new Chamber of Deputies should start working as soon as possible and should not get blocked, which is what TOP 09 chairman Miroslav Kalousek proposed, in protest to the rule of a minority government led by Babis, Okamura said.

The SPD will support the ANO candidate for Chamber head, Radek Vondracek, he said.

Okamura said Zeman supported his candidacy for a deputy chairman of the Chamber of Deputies.

He said the SPD and Zeman also shared the view that a general referendum bill should be passed and enable a national vote on the country's departure from the EU, and that politicians should be elected directly and could be dismissed.

Zeman started meeting representatives of the parties that succeeded in entering the Chamber of Deputies in the recent election. Last week, he had talks with ANO, the Civic Democrats (ODS) and the Pirates. On Tuesday he is to meet Communist (KSCM) representatives.

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