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Schwarzenberg and Zeman face off in Czech presidential vote

Prague, 12.1.2013 19:34, (ROMEA)
Miloš Zeman and Karel Schwarzenberg
Miloš Zeman and Karel Schwarzenberg

The next Czech president will either be former prime minister Miloš Zeman (of the Strana práv občanů ZEMANOVCI - the Citizen's Rights Party for Zeman, or SPOZ), or the chair of the TOP 09 party, current Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg. Not all of the votes cast during the first round of the direct election have been counted, but no one else will be able to earn as many as would be needed to end up in first or second place.

The Czech Press Agency has calculated the results on the basis of data published by the Czech Statistical Bureau on www.volby.cz. The second round of voting will be held in two weeks' time to decide who will replace President Václav Klaus at Prague Castle.

Candidates who definitely will not proceed to the second round include the chair of the Sovereignty (Suverenita) party, Jana Bobošíková; the governing ODS (Civic Democratic Party) candidate, First Vice-Chair of the Senate Přemysl Sobotka; actress and former MP Taťana Fischerová; composer and visual artist Vladimír Franz; Czech MEP Zuzana Roithová (Christian Democrats - KDU-ČSL); and Czech Social Democratic Party (ČSSD) Vice-Chair Jiří Dienstbier. According to the results available on the election website, 60.11 % of voters participated in the election.

Schwarzenberg thanks voters for support

Schwarzenberg thanked his voters for their support this afternoon. Should he win the second round of voting as well, he said he would do his best to help the Czech Republic become a successful, well-ordered country.

Frontrunner Zeman said he considers the foreign minister to be a great political professional and opponent. However, he also claims the TOP 09 chair represents the past.

Schwarzenberg said he is surprised at how much support he has received. "I really never suspected that so many people would turn out to vote. I sincerely thank you all for that," the TOP 09 candidate told journalists. He also expressed appreciation for the work of his campaign team and of young people in general.

The foreign minister said he is aware of the responsibility he has taken on during the next two weeks, after which the future direction of the Czech Republic will be decided. "I hope I will succeed during the next five years to lead our country and our society to a place where we will really be able to say that the motto on the presidential flag, 'The truth is victorious', will correspond to reality," he said.

Fischerová thanks her voters, says her results are a success

Taťana Fischerová has thanked all of the people who voted for her during the presidential election. She also expressed the hope that other voters would be satisfied with their choices.

Speaking today after roughly 90 % of the vote had been counted, Fischerová told journalists she considered it a success to have won more than 140 000 votes. She also welcomed the news that Schwarzenberg and Zeman would be facing off in the second round, saying it was good news.

"I believe this was a good test. We needed to learn how people view their politicians, and we must work with that," she said.

Fischerová said she considers her results a great success because she achieved them without money or running a big campaign. "I consider this a beautiful result and we will definitely work with it further, because it's not a small number of people at all," she said.

While the leading candidates ran campaigns worth tens of millions of Czech crowns, Fischerová's was modest. "I believe in that respect we are better off, because those votes didn't cost us any money, while the others had to invest a great deal into theirs. Maybe people will also realize over time that they were influenced by that money," she declared.

Fischerová said she mainly wants to rest now - she feels relieved and is not bothered by the fact that she lost. "We'll keep going, the work on our new concepts and programs is continuing. We have an alternative political movement, we definitely will continue to run candidates, the work is not over," she assured the press.

Fischerová does not yet have any recommendation for her voters on whom they should elect in the second round. "I still have to think it through. I might not recommend anyone and leave it up to them to make their own choices," she explained.

Fischer not saying who he will support

Former Prime Minister Jan Fischer said he considers it probable that he will not enter the second round of the presidential elections and that he respects the results. The candidate told journalists his loss was a disappointment of sorts.

During pre-election surveys Fischer was considered a frontrunner from the start. He has not yet said whom he might support in the second round.

"Facts must be respected, and I have always respected them. Personally, of course, a certain level of disappointment is there, but nothing can be done," he said.

Fischer said it might be time to analyze why his results did not meet expectations, although he admitted there was not much point to doing so. When asked whether he had decided whom to support during the second round, he said it was still too early to tell.

Sobotka will support Schwarzenberg

The governing ODS party's candidate has said he will now support Schwarzenberg. Sobotka, a 68-year-old physician, was never considered a front-runner from the start despite being nominated by the strongest party in government. His campaign did not attract much attention from the media and his numbers were consistently low in public opinion surveys.

Sobotka has represented ODS in the Senate without interruption since 1996. He has served as the chair of the upper house and is now its first vice-chair.

It has been speculated for many years that Sobotka might be nominated for the presidency by ODS, and last year he defeated Czech MEP Evžen Tošenovský in the party primary. While none of the other ODS politicians distanced themselves from him or criticized him, the party's support for his candidacy was tepid throughout the campaign. President Václav Klaus, who founded ODS, made it clear that his support would rather be for former ČSSD chair Zeman.

ČTK, ryz, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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Tags:  

Aktuality, Osobnosti, Politika, Prezident, Prezidentské volby, Václav Klaus, zprávy, Czech republic, Táňa Fischerová



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