published: 12.09.2013, 12:58 | updated: 12.09.2013 13:01:08
Prague - Lobbyist Miroslav Slouf, former communist lawmaker who in 1998-2002 headed the team of advisers to the then PM Milos Zeman, will lead the Party of Citizens´ Rights - the Zemanites (SPOZ) in Prague in the forthcoming general election, Vladimir Honig, from the SPOZ, told CTK today.
Honig is a deputy head of the SPOZ´s Prague branch which elected Slouf as its election leader on Wednesday.
Slouf, whose name figures in a number of political scandals and whom many view as controversial, is considered one of the main masterminds of Zeman´s victory in the January direct presidential election.
He, nevertheless, withdrew from the limelight after Zeman´s inauguration as president. Zeman recently said Slouf had to leave his team of aides because he made up things.
Later today SPOZ deputy chairman Vladimir Krulis announced that the party has cancelled its press conference scheduled for tonight. It was to follow the SPOZ presidium´s meeting that was to definitively confirm the party´s regional election leaders.
The press conference has been adjourned until Friday noon, Krulis said, without elaborating.
The media have cited SPOZ leadership sources saying it will try to change the Prague branch´s choice.
"I´m curious to see their [final decision]," Slouf said in reaction to them.
He told CTK that his nomination for election leader was unplanned and it appeared at the Prague SPOZ´s conference only after two other candidates´ bids were turned down.
He said he accepted it because the time pressure forced the SPOZ to choose its election leaders.
The deadline for parties to submit their lists of candidates is September 17.
Slouf said he accepted the candidacy because he wanted to help the SPOZ. He wants to address Praguers mainly by focusing on municipal issues and by a contact campaign.
He said he does not expect Zeman to support him nor does he fear that his candidacy may cause the SPOZ´s voter preferences to decline.
"In the general election, the president´s support may be rather harmful," Slouf said.
He said he meets voters every day, in public transport means, for example, and he has not seen them frowning at him.
Slouf, who will turn 65 next week, joined the Communist Party in 1975 and left it after the communist regime´s collapse in 1991.
In 1994 he joined the Social Democratic Party (CSSD) then chaired by Zeman. Observers say he significantly contributed to the victory of Zeman´s CSSD in the 1998 general election.
He left the CSSD in 2009, following the example of Zeman who fell out with the party in 2007.
In 2008, Slouf was one of the founding fathers of the Friends of Milos Zeman group striving for a political comeback of Zeman, who had lived in retirement from 2002.
The group was later transformed into a new party, the SPOZ, of which Zeman is honorary chairman and which ended narrowly under the parliamentary threshold in the latest general election in 2010.
Slouf headed the Prague SPOZ before the presidential polls but he did not seek re-election earlier this year.
Before, he unsuccessfully ran for the CSSD in the Senate elections in 2000 in the Chrudim constituency, east Bohemia.
Slouf´s election rivals in Prague, i.e. other parties´ number one candidates, include Karel Schwarzenberg (TOP 09 chairman), Miroslava Nemcova (Civic Democrat deputy chairwoman), Jaroslav Zavadil (CMKOS umbrella union head running for the CSSD), Marta Semelova (Communists´ Prague branch chairwoman), Daniel Herman (former head of the Institute for the Totalitarian Regime Study who runs for the Christian Democrats), Andrej Babis (ANO movement chairman) and Ondrej Liska (Greens chairman).
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