published: 01.11.2012, 15:44 | updated: 01.11.2012 15:46:22
Prague - Former Czech prime minister Milos Zeman has collected more than 105,000 signatures, over twice as many as what is required by law, in support of his presidential candidacy, for the registration of which he officially applied today, he told journalists.
Zeman, who was prime minister for the Social Democrats (CSSD) in 1998-2002 is a favourite of the direct presidential election due in January, along with Jan Fischer, head of the caretaker cabinet in 2009-2010.
Zeman presented the result of his signature collecting campaign in his Prague office. Later today he filed an application for his candidacy´s official registration with the Interior Ministry, he said.
Zeman thanked all people who added their signatures to the petition in support of his presidential bid.
The Czechs will elect a new president in a direct vote for the first time on January 11-12. So far the presidents have been elected jointly by the two houses of parliament.
The incumbent president Vaclav Klaus´s second and final possible term expires in early March.
Klaus supported Zeman earlier this year when he said he considers him a significant personality of the Czech political scene and a suitable candidate for the post of president.
Zeman, 68, did not seek re-election in the 2002 general polls and he voluntarily retired. In 2003 he sought the presidential post. However, he lost the election to Klaus (then Civic Democrats, ODS) after a part of the CSSD MPs refused to support him in the election. He fell out with the CSSD then.
In the past few years, Zeman´s political comeback and most recently his presidential candidacy have been promoted by the Citizens´ Rights Party of Milos Zeman (SPOZ).
About 25 people have announced their intention to run for Czech president. Five of them, including Zeman, have lodged their registration applications with the Interior Ministry already, other two reportedly plan to do so later this week.
The deadline for candidates´ applications is November 6.
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