Klaus: presidential election first round biggest rout of right since 1989

The Czech president, Václav Klaus, has described the outcome of the first round of direct elections for his successor as the greatest rout of the country’s right since the fall of communism, after the candidate of the biggest right-wing party the Civic Democrats, Přemysl Sobotka, received only 2.5 percent of the vote. Mr. Klaus, who steps down in March, said he was saddened by the result and felt that “it was necessary to do something about it”. Former Social Democrat prime minister Miloš Zeman and Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg, who is chairman of the TOP 09 party and an acolyte of the late Václav Havel, will face one another in a runoff beginning on January 25. Mr. Klaus places Mr. Schwarzenberg on the left, despite the fact that his party are commonly considered to be right-of-centre and have pushed through financial reforms and church restitution, which are unpopular with left-wing voters. For his part, Mr. Zeman says the runoff will be a left-right vote along the lines of the Hollande-Sarkozy battle for the presidency in France last year. Mr. Klaus refused to endorse either candidate.

Author: Ian Willoughby