Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Eighteen candidates want to run for Czech president

ČTK |
8 November 2017

Prague, Nov 7 (CTK) - A total of 18 contenders for the post of Czech president have submitted their candidacies for the January direct election to the Interior Ministry by the deadline that expired at 16:00 on Tuesday, Deputy Interior Minister Petr Mlsna has written to CTK in a press release.

One of the last bidders was former Civic Democrat (ODS) prime minister Mirek Topolanek.

The ministry does not rule out that some more candidates might have delivered their bid to the ministry's mail room on Tuesday, as a result of which the number of bidders would increase.

Their definitive number will be known on Wednesday morning.

The Interior Ministry will decide on the admissibility of the candidacies by November 24 when it is to announce the names of the candidates.

Citing personal data protection, it would not release the names for now, though the Office for Personal Data Protection (UOOU) says the names can be published before the registration is finished.

Mlsna said the UOOU's stance is not binding on the ministry. The registration of candidates is an administrative procedure closed to the public, he said, adding that the ministry can release the candidates' names with their consent only.

Contenders for presidency are required to submit the verified signatures of at least 50,000 citizens or at least 20 deputies or ten senators in support of their candidacies.

Three of the current contenders have won the required support of senators, another four are supported by deputies and five have submitted citizens' signatures on their bids. However, two of these five have apparently not fulfilled the legal requirement [concerning the number of signatures], the ministry said.

The remaining six applications are not complete to include lawmakers or citizens' signatures.

Five years ago, 20 candidates submitted their bids for the first Czech direct presidential election, but only nine of them were registered eventually. Except for current President Milos Zeman, none of the previous candidates is running for head of state now, according to available information.

None of the nine parties in parliament has fielded its own presidential candidate.

The first round of the presidential election will be held on January 12-13, 2018. If none of the candidates wins an absolute majority of the vote, the second round will follow two weeks later.

The candidates challenging Zeman include former Science Academy chairman Jiri Drahos and entrepreneur and lyricist Michal Horacek, who have each submitted more than 50,000 people's signatures along with their candidacies, as has Zeman.

The required support from deputies has been gained by former Skoda Auto chief Vratislav Kulhanek (Civic Democratic Alliance, ODA), Defence and Security Industry Association President Jiri Hynek (for The Realists) and musician and The Reasonable party head Petr Hannig.

The candidacies of former ambassador to France Pavel Fischer, physician Marek Hilser and ex-PM Mirek Topolanek have been supported by senators.

According to the ministry, another man, aged 73, has submitted his candidacy, which he heralded as a bid supported by deputies, but in fact he gained a signature of one deputy only.

More than 20 people announced their intention to run for president in recent months.

Terezie Holovska, former deputy mayor of Prague's 8th district, said she submitted her candidacy on Tuesday.

Another contender, Josef Toman, said on Monday that he had gathered almost 75,000 signatures of people and sent his candidacy to the ministry by mail.

Shortly before the deadline, presidential candidacies were also submitted by Roman Hladik and Libor Hrancik, but none of them has probably met the required number of signatures.

Other potential contenders, including Ivan Smetana and Milan Kohout, have announced that they would not seek presidency. Giving up the race, former head of the Government Office Karel Stogl said he has gathered only nine signatures of senators.

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