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Czech presidential candidate says incumbent will be incapable of five more years in office

4.1.2018 16:38
Mirek Topolánek at a press conference on 3 January 2018. (PHOTO: Flickr.com)
Mirek Topolánek at a press conference on 3 January 2018. (PHOTO: Flickr.com)

If current Czech President Miloš Zeman will be re-elected as the head of state this month, he will not be able to fully perform the role for another five years because he is too ill. That message was delivered yesterday at a press conference by presidential candidate and former Czech PM Mirek Topolánek.

The Czech Republic, in Topolánek's view, needs a strong President who will have enough energy and experience and who will know how to stand up for people, both against Brussels and against a strong Prime Minister. The candidate said a president who is dividing society the way Zeman has will be weak.

He believes the main reason Zeman enjoys great electoral support is that voters have not met with him in person recently. Topolánek said he did not intend his remarks pejoratively, adding that Zeman is too ill.

The candidate believes Zeman is refusing to appear in pre-election debates because he would lose support if he did so. The former PM noted that if Zeman will be re-elected, he will not be able to fully perform the office for the next five years.

Zeman's spokesperson Jiří Ovčáček told the Czech News Agency that "In principle, Mr President does not respond to these desperate attacks by his competitors. Speaking for myself, I can say that by [Topolánek] making this declaration it has been definitively confirmed that none of the candidates running against Zeman has any positive program for the republic."

Topolánek has said that he would be bothered if the format of the pre-election debates involves just eight of the nine candidates. The candidate said he believes the incumbent and his opponents will never be asked the same questions and will have no opportunity to encounter each other in discussion.

For that reason, he believes any such debate without the incumbent would just be "skimming the surface". Topolánek said he believes that by the time the first round of the presidential elections begins, some candidates will no longer be participating.

He said one of his priorities as a candidate is to combat the division of society. The President, in his view, should not belong to any particular camp, should know how to speak with all involved, and should know how to bring an artificially divided society together.

The President should be "neither a yes-man nor a doorman", Topolánek believes. "Anti-Zeman or Zeman is no alternative."

The candidate introduced some of his supporters during the press conference. Former Czech Health Minister Daniela Filipiová and the former head of the Prague ambulance services who was once a senator for the Civic Democratic Party (ODS), Zdeněk Schwarz, are backing his candidacy.

ČTK, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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Prezidentské volby 2018, Aktuality, Brusel, Kampaň



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