Czech televised discussion features one presidential candidate, two presidential spokespeople - and a ficus
On 2 January, Jaromír Soukup's "Arena" discussion program on the Barrandov cable television channel was not attended either by candidate Jiří Drahoš or by former Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek (Civic Democratic Party - ODS), who is also running. Soukup confirmed to the audience that those candidates refused to attend because they were bothered by the participation of Jiří Ovčáček, who is the sitting president's spokesperson.
Czech President Miloš Zeman said in March of last year that he would not participate in any discussion programs prior to the elections for the head of state this month. The only actual candidate in the studio was entrepreneur and lyricist Michal Horáček.
The discussion panel was also augmented by Petr Hájek, a former spokesperson for former Czech President Václav Klaus, who was an unadvertised addition, and Soukup emphasized that the program should not be considered a presidential "debate". Ovčáček also brought a ficus with him onto the set, saying that it was harmless, opinion-free, and would stay put wherever it was planted.
"This is a good replacement for some of those who didn't come today," he said before presenting Zeman's standpoint on the issues raised. While he did not name who the ficus was "replacing", it was apparent to the audience that the stunt was aimed at candidate Drahoš.
On the other hand, Ovčáček expressed appreciation for Horáček participating in the program. Candidate Drahoš had previously communicated that attending a "debate" among the presidential candidates in which Zeman would be represented by his spokesperson was unnecessary, in his view.
Candidate Topolánek posted generally to Facebook on the day of the broadcast stating that Zeman should finally stand up "like a man" to the other candidates and defend his ideas and vision to them. "I do not consider it possible for any democratic candidate for president, Miloš Zeman included, to avoid televised debates in this cowardly way and to send a Nývlt in his place," Topolánek said, referencing a character from the film "Jára Cimrman ležící, spící" ("Jára Cimrman Lying, Sleeping"), who is a double of Archduke Ferdinand.
Candidate Horáček had previously emphasized that a presidential candidate must fight for his position, his principles, and his vision everywhere. "I would welcome it if Miloš Zeman would face off against me in person," he posted to Facebook.
"I get that he's incapable of that, though, so he sends his 'vice president' instead," Horáček posted. Candidate Marek Hilšer called on his fellow candidates to insist that Zeman be represented by an empty chair.
"He fears confrontation," was Hilšer's assessment of the incumbent. Other candidates include former diplomat Pavel Fischer, musician Petr Hannig, the president of the Association of Defense and Security Industries Jiří Hynek, and former Škoda Auto head Vratislav Kulhánek.
- Czech presidential candidate criticizes cancellation of Human Rights Minister post
- Czech presidential elections: Voters don't have to go to their home precinct if they have a voter pass
- Czech institute reminds President that welfare restrictions have applied for more than a decade now
- Czech futsal club "takes a knee" against the xenophobic remarks of the SPD chair and the President
- Czech elections: Local report of suspected vote-buying, allegedly to cast ballots for the governing ANO movement
- Romani activist Štefan Tišer has passed away in the Czech Republic
- Petr Horváth, founder of the band Gipsy Sendy, has passed away at the age of 45 in Slovakia
- Jarmila Balážová: What does the stormy debate in the Czech Republic about the TV series featuring Romani performers show us?
- Czech Deputy Public Defender of Rights says Public Defender of Rights is publicly misrepresenting what she said to him
- COVID-19 virus mutation means Czech Republic introducing quarantine for arrivals from Britain, flights stop today at noon
- Czech millionaire goes undercover as part of new reality show, volunteers at Romani boxing club, then surprises them with a donation
- UK quarantine for travelers arriving from Czech Republic begins tomorrow
- Slovakia: At-home quarantine not functional in Romani-inhabited settlements, COVID-19 infected persons to be taken to state-run facilities
- European Commission calls for public recommendations about its Framework for National Roma Inclusion Strategies by 16 March
- Slovakia's TV Romana to be carried by the Orange TV satellite network
- Czech commercial television station broadcast racist jokes on Christmas, broadcast council warns they broke the law