Jarmila Balážová: I will vote for Karel Schwarzenberg
It has been interesting to see what the first direct presidential election in the Czech Republic has unleashed and shown us. Even though some of this all could have been predicted, I really did not expect some of the responses I have seen, just as I did not expect certain people active in cultural and public life to back the candidates they are now backing.
My personal approach to elections, including this one, is very pragmatic. I already have a great deal of information and I do my best to find out even more. However, when making my decision, I base it on the positions that have long been held by the candidates - at best, positions they have held their entire lives - rather than on their one-time failures or successes during televised debates.
The candidate I chose during the first round did not get a chance to fight for the citizens' votes in the second one. That's reality, we all knew from the start that only two candidates would move forward. That is why I am rather sorry to see how many people around me are declaring they will not cast a ballot during the second round because they don't agree with either candidate. Understandably, I am not denying them their basic right to such a decision, but it very often seems a bit like an alibi to me, a bit childish. It may also be an expression of their disgust with politics and stagnation.
Of the nine candidates, only two can proceed to the second round. Now, one of those two will, for the next five years, contribute to influencing the atmosphere in this country, the morale of this country, and creating the Czech Republic's position abroad.
I don't want to stay home and then just whine for the next five years about what kind of president we have, all the while claiming to ostensibly have "clean hands" because I didn't vote. I will definitely not be casting a blank ballot, as Czech MEP Zahradil has advised us to do - and by the way, the fact that such a solution was publicly suggested by a politician seems simply outrageous to me.
I have decided: Karel Schwarzenberg has disappointed me in the past with a few of his positions. For me the essential ones were his strange audit in the case of Jiří Čunek, his moving from one political party to another, and his alliance with Miroslav Kalousek. Also, he is a member of the current cabinet, which is not exactly a model of clean dealing, social sensitivity, or stability.
However, I also know of Schwarzenberg's many other good deeds and long-term positions, of his philanthropic activities benefiting foreigners, Romani people, and our more vulnerable fellow citizens. I know of his many years of steadfast support for the dissident movement in this country.
I do not want to have Miloš Zeman as president. In addition to everything mentioned by my colleagues here, I am most bothered by Zeman's populism, which he also exploits around questions concerning the position of Romani people, of that I am personally convinced. I don't like his self-regard, which is similar to that of Klaus, or his strange links to the mafia, his tendency to manipulate others, or the incorrect behavior of his electoral team, which stinks to high heaven. Therefore, I will definitely support Karel Schwarzenberg for President of the Czech Republic.
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