The outgoing Czech president, Václav Klaus, has welcomed the election of Miloš Zeman as his successor. In a reference to the motto of the late president Václav Havel, Mr Klaus told Czech Radio that in Mr Zeman’s election, “truth and love have finally prevailed over lies and hatred”. Mr Klaus, who is on a working visit to Chile, said he was glad that Czechs did not get confused by an incredible media campaign ahead of the vote, adding that result of the election was a huge satisfaction for all those who “mean well” for the country.
Czech Prime Minister Petr Nečas on Saturday congratulated Miloš Zeman on his victory in the first direct Czech presidential election. Since the fall of communism, Mr Nečas said, Czech politics had generated three significant figures – Václav Havel, Václav Klaus and Miloš Zeman – and that it was “natural” that Mr Zeman had been elected to succeed the former two. The prime minister also expressed hope that the atmosphere in the society would calm down in the coming days after the divisive campaigning ahead of the presidential vote.
Most Czech expats and tourists backed Karel Schwarzenberg in the second round of the direct presidential election. Mr Schwarzenberg received nearly 85 percent of the expat vote while Miloš Zeman got just over 15 percent. Polling stations at Czech embassies and consulates reported a higher turnout compared to the election’s first round held two weeks ago.
Polling stations across the country opened at 2 PM on Friday for Czechs to vote in the second round of the historical first direct presidential election. Voters will be choosing between former Social Democrat prime minister Miloš Zeman and the current foreign minister, Karel Schwarzenberg. Polls will close at 10 PM on Friday and will open again between 8 AM and 2 PM on Saturday; results of the vote are expected to come in on Saturday afternoon. Czech citizens abroad began voting in the presidential runoff at Czech embassies and consulates first in the Americas, followed by Australia and East Asia. Polls in European and African countries will be open during the same hours as in the Czech Republic.
The team of presidential candidate Miloš Zeman has approached the Interior Ministry over possible irregularities in the second round of the direct presidential election, the news agency ČTK reported. A member of the team said they were concerned that some voters could be copying their absentee ballots to be able to vote in different districts. The Interior Ministry therefore informed all election committees to pay extra attention to verifying voters’ identity, and also informed the police of the issue, a spokesman for the ministry said. More than 700,000 people have asked for absentee ballots for the second round of the presidential election, Czech TV reported.
The other presidential candidate, Karel Schwarzenberg, said he would file a lawsuit over an anonymous advertisement which came out in the most widely-read Czech daily Blesk on Friday, calling on readers not to vote for Mr Schwarzenberg. The advertisement included false statements about Mr Schwarzenberg’s views. Legislation on direct presidential elections prohibits anonymous advertising. Mr Zeman’s campaign has denied being behind the anonymous advertisement; however, some lawyers believe this could lead to the cancellation of the result of the vote.
Karel Schwarzenberg cast an invalid ballot in the election’s second round. Mr Schwarzenberg, who voted near his Central Bohemian home shortly after the polls opened at 2 PM, failed to insert his ballot in the official envelope before putting it into the ballot box, a moment captured by dozens of photo journalists. His vote will therefore be counted as invalid. Mr Schwarzenberg later said he had been disturbed by the presence of the media at the polling station.
The Czech Office for Personal Data Protection will fine the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs over the controversial new electronic system of welfare benefits payments, known as S-Cards, a spokeswoman for the authority said on Friday. The announcement comes following a control of the system by the personal data watchdog at the ministry; the spokeswoman said the amount of the fine would be determined after the authority deals with objections by the ministry, adding that further details should be released next week.
Czech recipients of EU funds received nearly 403 billion crowns, or 52 percent of subsidies earmarked for Czech Republic for the period of 2007 – 2013, according to a report by the Ministry of Regional Development released on Friday. The total amount of EU funds allocated for the Czech Republic for the seven year period reached nearly 785 billion; however, the Czech authorities have registered over 92,000 individual applications for EU subsidies totalling over 1.34 trillion crowns.
Former Social Democrat MP Petr Wolf was declared wanted by the police on Friday after he failed to turn up to begin serving his prison term. Mr Wolf, who served as a Member of Parliament between 2006 and 2010, was sentenced to six years in jail last year for having embezzled 11 million crowns from a government grant. The former politician has denied any wrongdoing and is reportedly planning to appeal the verdict at the Supreme Court.