Zeman, former PM hoping to become president at second attempt, will face aristocrat and Havel acolyte Schwarzenberg

12-01-2013

Miloš Zeman, 68, is regarded as one of the most significant Czech politicians of the last two decades. He transformed the Social Democrats into an election-winning force and was prime minister from 1998 to 2002, under a controversial “opposition agreement” with the Civic Democrats, the party’s nominal chief rivals. Accused by some of coarsening political discourse in the Czech Republic, he failed to become Czech president in bicameral elections in 2003. Karel Schwarzenberg, who is 75, is an immensely wealthy titled prince whose family fled Czechoslovakia after the Communist coup of 1948; after serving as chairman of the International Helsinki Committee, a human rights body, he returned after 1989’s Velvet Revolution and was chancellor to President Václav Havel, to whom he remained close.