Analysis of Czech presidential campaigns: Horáček is the most transparent, Zeman the least
According to Transparency International (TI), the most transparent campaign of the nine presidential candidates now running in the Czech Republic is that of entrepreneur and lyricist Michal Horáček, while the least transparent is the re-election campaign of the incumbent, Czech President Miloš Zeman. The anti-corruption organization published the findings of its analysis on its website yesterday.
"President Zeman is actually condescendingly dismissive of the question of openness and transparency," said David Ondráčka, the director of TI. "Basically, we will never learn anything about his sponsors," Ondráčka said, referencing the fact that the campaign for his re-election is being financed by a group called "Friends of Miloš Zeman".
The TI director said it seems that as of the close of 2017 the campaigns of all the candidates had spent more than CZK 60 million [EUR 2.35 million]. "We estimate that by the time the polls open as much as CZK 200 million [EUR 7.8 million] may be spent," the TI director said.
Ondráčka pointed out that Zeman's re-election campaign alone must have already cost tens of millions given its use of billboards and online advertising. According to the TI website, the candidates have currently shown incomes of CZK 65.7 million [EUR 2.6 million] and expenditures of CZK 52 million [EUR 2 million].
The highest amount of expenditure, for the time being, according to TI's review of the candidates' transparent accounts, has been contributed by the Horáček campaign at CZK 27 million [EUR 1 million]. Ondřej Cakl, the coordinator of TI's monitoring campaign, said Horáček is the candidate who has published the most information about how his campaign is financed and is also the only candidate who has continually published an accounting of his expenditures as well as a listing of his team members and other collaborating entities.
Zeman, on the other hand, has officially declared that he is not running a campaign, and the engagement of the "Friends of Miloš Zeman" group in their campaign on his behalf may indicate a possible avoidance of legal requirements, according to TI, as the group is not registered as a supporter of the incumbent as required by law. The TI director said that Zeman's online campaign account is becoming "some sort of bizarre notice board for messages and folk humor".
Other candidates - Jiří Drahoš, Pavel Fischer, Marek Hilšer, Jiří Hynek and Vratislav Kulhánek - are being reproached by TI for the confused or fragmented nature of the information they are publishing about their campaigns. Candidates Petr Hannig and Mirek Topolánek have offered rather fractured information about their campaigns as well, according to TI.
Ondráčka said he was also given pause by some of the commercial and corporate sponsors of some candidates. "Far from all the cost items in the transparent accounts are described so that the citizens can ascertain what the candidate used the money for, amd many payments will be delayed - there is also no information provided about transactions paid for in cash," TI reported.
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