After a meeting with president-elect Miloš Zeman, the head of the Public Affairs deputies’ group in Parliament Katerina Klasnová said that the future president commended her party for filing a constitutional complaint over the church property restitution law. The two also agreed on the need to increase the powers of the Supreme Audit Office. Later on Thursday afternoon Mr Zeman was also due to hold talks with the Communist Party leader Vojtěch Filip. A meeting with TOP 09 leader Karel Schwarzenberg, Mr. Zeman’s unsuccessful rival in the presidential election, has been scheduled for Friday. The newly-elected head of state is still refusing to meet with the leader of the newly-emerged political grouping LIDEM, a break-away faction from the Public Affairs Party, on the grounds that it lacks legitimacy.
The first Czech direct presidential election has divided the nation like never before. In the heated campaign ahead of the election’s second round, leftist Miloš Zeman presented himself as a defender of the underprivileged, exploiting his opponent’s alleged lack of “Czechness” in the process while those who backed the aristocrat foreign minister, Karel Schwarzenberg, believed his victory would move the country away from post-communism. So how important was the social vote? What role did nationalism play in the election? And what impact will it have
The first ever direct presidential election brought renewed focus on a trauma that continues to haunt Czech society even sixty years after it occurred. The forced deportations of some three million Germans from Czechoslovakia after the end of WWII still divide Czech society, as does the historical role of Czechoslovak president Edvard Beneš, who sanctioned the move.
In related news, a new poll by the CVVM agency suggests that support for governing coalition member TOP 09, headed by Mr Schwarzenberg, doubled during the presidential elections, jumping from a single-digit to double figures. Support for the centre-right party would rank at 16 percent if elections were held today, mirroring the results of the actual 2010 Parliamentary election when the party received 16.7 percent. The opposition Social Democrats also improved on recent polls and would win the election with 38 percent of the vote. The Communists would come second with 17.5 percent and the ruling Civic Democrats last with 13 percent. According to the survey, no other party would pass the five percent threshold to make it into the Chamber of Deputies.
Members of the campaign team of presidential candidate Karel Schwarzenberg (who finished second in the recent presidential election) have revealed they will not attempt to found a new political platform. Spokesman Marek Pražák said the campaign team had had one goal which was to try and get its candidate elected. He made clear that members respected the results, despite a thin line, in the team’s view, walked by their rivals regarding some statements in the final weeks of the campaign. Mr Pražák called on supporters to push for greater decency in Czech politics. In the runoff election last weekend, Mr Schwarzenberg earned more than 2.2 million votes – not enough to beat fellow candidate Miloš Zeman who received roughly 500,000 more.
Within hours of being elected president, Miloš Zeman called for early parliamentary elections, leading to speculation about the chances of Petr Nečas’s right-of-centre coalition serving its full term. Now the embattled prime minister is coming under pressure from within: TOP 09, perhaps buoyed by their chairman’s showing in the presidential vote, on Tuesday issued a demand that opens a fresh fissure in the government.
The chief of protocol at Prague Castle, Jindřich Forejt, is set to become the Czech ambassador to the Vatican. The information was confirmed by the minister of foreign affairs, Karel Schwarzenberg. According to press reports, he had held off from nominating Mr. Forejt, who was backed by President Václav Klaus; in return, the president had dragged his feet about putting his signature to the appointment of several other ambassadors.
During the second round of the presidential elections this weekend, a little over three thousand ballots were found to be invalid in the Czech capital. Apparently, some of them were made invalid on purpose. Some voters placed homemade ballots into designated envelopes, indicating their preference for the cartoon character Little Mole (Krtek), for example, or the fictional theatre character Jára Cimrman. One voter placed candy into the envelope instead of the ballot.
President-elect Miloš Zeman has retired to his home in the village of Nové Veselí in the Vysočina region on Sunday. According to a friend, he is planning to recuperate from the stress of the presidential campaign until Thursday, when he will go back to Prague. Mr Zeman asked not to be disturbed and said he will not pick-up phone calls from friends. The police are still looking for the person who spray-painted a red star near Mr Zeman’s home in Nové Veselí on Saturday night in reference to the former communist regime.