published: 12.01.2013, 13:24 | updated: 12.01.2013 13:36:21
Prague - Milos Zeman is a clear favourite of the first round of the Czech direct presidential election whose victory in the second round can be prevented by rival candidate Karel Schwarzenberg rather than Jan Fischer, Zbynek Petracek writes in Lidove noviny today.
In daily Pravo, commentator Jiri Hanak says he expects Czech voters to face two extremes - former leftist PM Zeman and present conservative Foreign Minister Schwarzenberg - to choose from in the second round.
The two-round direct presidential election is a novelty for Czechs. Should they vote "by their hearts" in the January 11-12 first election round and "rationally" in the expected second round two weeks later, as Constitutional Court chairman Pavel Rychetsky has advised them? Petracek asks.
Among the nine candidates for president, none arouses evident mass opposition. There is no communist among them, nor an ultra-right populist openly promoting racism, Petracek writes.
There is no Czech Le Pen among the candidates who - like the French original in 2002 - could surprisingly advance to the second round if most voters voted "by their hearts" in the first round, Petracek continues.
However, this positive circumstance has a negative aspect. If there is no Le Pen who could advance surprisingly, there is no big chance either that all democrats would unite to defeat him, Petracek writes.
If Zeman, former Social Democrat PM now running for the small Citizens´ Rights Party (SPOZ) is not a Czech Le Pen, against whom everybody would unite in the second round, and if Fischer, former head of an interim cabinet of unaffiliated experts, was until recently considered the only candidate capable of endangering Zeman, would not the elimination of Fischer in the first round benefit Zeman? Petracek writes.
It is impossible to answer the question for now. Zeman is a clear favourite, who may beat both Fischer and Schwarzenberg (TOP 09) in the second round. However, if one of the two last mentioned men can endanger Zeman´s victory in the second round, if one of them can mobilise against a "Czech Le Pen," it is probably Schwarzenberg rather than Fischer - if people voted "rationally" in the first round already [and sent Schwarzenberg to the second round], Petracek concludes.
In Pravo, Hanak says Zeman and Schwarzenberg, whom he expects to advance, are both charismatic. Their other common denominators are that neither of them will be flanked by a "standard first lady" and that both have "committed a long list of political sins."
Moreover, both are known for their bonmots or controlled impertinence, Hanak adds.
Zeman has sought the presidential post as if thirsty of power, even at the cost of an opaque financing of his election campaign. That is also why Zeman´s presidency could be expected to be the continuation of present President Vaclav Klaus without Klaus, Hanak writes.
Schwarzenberg says he is ready to serve the nation, which is a fabulous kitsch but not totally empty. Schwarzenberg provided great service to Czech freedom both for many years before 1989 and afterwards as head of the first post-communist president Vaclav Havel´s office, Hanak writes.
However, both Zeman, 68, and Schwarzenberg, 75, are politicians of the older generation, "children of the 1990s." How is it possible that the Czech political scene has for the past 23 years failed to produce a young personality who would deserve this label? Hanak asks.
True, the Czech political parties have quite a low number of members, and they function based on cronyism instead of competition. An even worse circumstance is that competent people have no reason to enter politics, feeling deterred by practices on the Czech political scene, Hanak writes.
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