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Czech right-wing extremist leader wants to run for president

Czech Republic, 5.3.2012 18:29, (ROMEA)

Tomáš Vandas, the chair of the right-wing extremist Workers' Social Justice Party (Dělnická strana sociální spravedlnosti - DSSS), which according to a study commissioned by the Czech Interior Ministry shares staff with the neo-Nazi movement, wants to run for the office of president in the upcoming direct elections. Vandas believes he will get the necessary 50 000 signatures on a candidate list. "Based on the kind of support people give me at our meetings, I'd say there is a chance we would get the signatures together here," Vandas told the Czech Press Agency.

Vandas said he was led to announce his possible candidacy after seeing the names of the other potential presidential candidates that have been put forth recently. "I believe it is really not possible for us to continue the negative trend of the past 20 years, so a change is necessary, and if that change is going to come, it logically should come from the head of state," Vandas declared. His election as president would, in his view, mean a significant change for the Czech Republic, including for its presentation abroad, but his priority, he claims, would be the nation, not "licking the boots of bureaucrats in Brussels."

The decision that Vandas should run for president reportedly was taken at the recent national-level meeting of the ultra-right party, which often sympathized with the organizers of anti-Romani protests in the north of Bohemia recently. Vandas wants to start his campaign at the end of April and predicts he will have visited between 60 and 80 towns in the Czech Republic by the end of the year. At the start his presidential campaign will also be aligned with the regional elections, but he will start collecting signatures for his candidacy once the law on direct presidential elections takes effect.

Vandas believes he will get enough signatures to qualify, but he reportedly said he knows the authenticity and legitimacy of those signatures will be reviewed by Czech Interior Ministry bureaucrats and he has no idea "how they will go against me". The party has not yet addressed the financial aspects of such a campaign, but reportedly will run it frugally.

The former caretaker PM Jan Fischer, the head of the Suverenita (Sovereignty) party Jana Bobošíková, and Czech MEP Zuzana Roithová (Christian Democrats - KDU-ČSL) have already announced they will run for president. The TOP 09 party aspires to see its chair, current Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg, elected president. The Social Democrats are considering whether to nominate Czech Senator Jiří Dienstbier or economist Jan Švejnar.

The Civic Democrats (ODS) will not choose their presidential candidate until the party holds its primaries. Possible ODS candidates mentioned so far include primarily the Vice-Chair of the Czech Senate, Přemysl Sobotka, and the chair of the lower house, Miroslava Němcová. Recently, however, the name of Czech MEP and former regional governor Evžen Tošenovský was also mentioned.

ČTK, Gwendolyn Albert, Zdeněk Ryšavý, ryz, Czech Press Agency, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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