Sunday, 22 April 2018

Analysts: Czech presidential campaign is rather dull

ČTK |
18 December 2017

Prague, Dec 17 (CTK) - The campaigns before the presidential elections that will be held next month seem rather dull, none of the nine candidates for the head of the Czech state made a fatal mistake and none of them managed to win special attention, according to analysts whom CTK has addressed.

The direct presidential election is scheduled for January 12-13, 2018. If none of the candidates wins a majority of the vote, the two most successful will meet in the second round two weeks later.

"It has been more or less the same for nine months. It seems that no key turn has occurred so far," said analyst Lubomir Kopecek, from Brno's Masaryk University.

He said he expects the fight for president to culminate at the turn of the year.

"The election will be held in about a month, it is still very open at the moment. In the previous election, the rise of (former right-wing foreign minister) Karel Schwarzenberg came about two or three weeks before the first round of the election," Kopecek said.

Analyst Daniel Kunstat, from Prague's Cevro Institute, shared the view that the campaign has been absolutely calm until now.

The campaign is "rather boring, dull, without bigger excesses and also without fatal mistakes made by individual candidates," he said.

The latest opinion polls indicate that current President Milos Zeman and Sciences Academy former head Jiri Drahos are the favourites. Businessman Michal Horacek and former right-wing prime minister Mirek Topolanek might also have a chance, while the remaining candidates tend to stay in the background.

"They are in a little visible cluster. From time to time, some of them succeeds in briefly attracting attention by some debate or statement," political analyst Ladislav Mrklas, from Cevro Institute, said about the five remaining candidates - diplomat Pavel Fischer, doctor Marek Hilser, Skoda Auto former chief Vratislav Kulhanek, arms official Jiri Hynek and musician Petr Hannig.

Kopecek said billboards and debates in the media help the less known candidates.

Mrklas said there seemed to be too many debates before the election and fewer people are interested in them as a result.

President Zeman claimed he would not wage any campaign and he refused to take part in any debate with his rivals.

The analysts agreed that no big issue has appeared in the presidential campaign so far. It is a fight of the current president against his rivals, they said.

"One big issue of this election is connected with the fact that this president is defending his post," Kopecek said.

Mrklas said the 2013 presidential election runoff was a right wing (Schwarzenberg) vs left wing (Zeman) battle.

"I think nobody will succeed in turn the campaign to a right-left duel like it was five years ago. The conflict line is Zeman vs the rest," he said.

Mrklas admitted that the candidates try to present their own visions and programmes.

Kunstat said the programmes of the presidential candidates cannot be viewed in the same way as programmes of parties before the general election. "It is more an effort to indicate to potential voters the anchoring of the given personality in the political spectrum rather than a concrete plan for ruling that could be implemented in practice," Kunstat said.

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