Czechs reveal favourites for presidential office

A number of names may spring to mind in connection with the Czech Republic and Vaclav Havel is certainly one of them. The former dissident has become a symbol of post-communist Czech statehood. At first president of Czechoslovakia and then twice re-elected as president of the Czech Republic, Vaclav Havel will soon be succeeded in his post after having served for 13 years. By whom that's hard to guess. Pavla Horakova went out to the streets of Prague to ask people whom they would like to see as the next head of state.

Who do you think should be our next president?

"Madeleine Albright."


"Because she's famous, she's Czech and she could do much good for Czech people."

"I don't know, I have absolutely no idea."

What do you think, who should be our next president?

"I think it should be Mr Otakar Motejl."

Why Mr Motejl?

"Because I think he's the best to suit the demands and he's the only one of the candidates who has a clear reputation and who is impartial as an obudsman."

"Maybe Petr Pithart. Because Mr Klaus doesn't suit me."

"Maybe Vaclav Klaus because he's a very good politician."

Who do you think should be our next president?

"The only astronaut Vladimir Remek because I think the president must be a globally known personality and therefore Vladimir Remek is a candidate number one."

Czech astronaut Vladimir Remek, the Chairman of the Senate Petr Pithart or even the former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright - that's just a random sample of Czech people's opinions on the matter. According to Czech law the president is elected by both houses of parliament and not by direct vote, but people certainly have their favourites, although they can't directly influence the result. The ruling Social Democrats, however, have decided to give everybody a chance to choose among the party's official candidates in a referendum held at the end of October. Their nominees are the former Prime Minister Milos Zeman, former Justice Minister Jaroslav Bures, Czech ombudsman Otakar Motejl and university professor Martin Potucek. The Civic Democrats, on the other hand, will announce their candidate after the Senate elections in November, most likely it will be the party's chairman Vaclav Klaus. The Christian Democrats have said they will vote for the current Chairman of the Senate, Petr Pithart, who's also an option for the Freedom Union, as is ombudsman Otakar Motejl. The Communist Party supports lawyer and former military prosecutor Miroslav Krizenecky. The smallest parliamentary party, the Civic Democratic Alliance, say they will vote for their Senator, Jaroslava Moserova. It's quite possible that other names will be added to the list by February when Vaclav Havel's term of office ends. In March 2003, Czechs should know whose portrait will replace Mr Havel's on the stamps.