President Klaus's popularity untouched by political deadlock
Seven months after the country's general elections the Czech Republic is still without a stable government, the lower house is paralyzed by the even division of power between left and right parties and the speaker of the lower chamber is about to resign from office. At the present time it seems that the one institution which remains a beacon of stability is the Office of the President. After four years in office, President Vaclav Klaus has a 67 percent popularity rating and the majority of Czechs would like to see him re-elected in next year's presidential elections.
"Vaclav Klaus is a president who appeals to many people because he is someone who represents the country quite well, he is someone who has a good command of foreign languages. He is a good representative of the Czech Republic and I think that people put his ability to represent the country well very high up on the ladder."
But he is also the founder of the Civic Democratic Party - has he managed to distance himself from that?
"I think Vaclav Klaus has been ambivalent about distancing himself from the Civic Democratic Party. On the one hand, he often emphasizes that he cannot separate himself from the party and that he is and will always be a politician with a conservative outlook, on the other hand in the last few months or weeks he has shown that when it comes to government negotiations he can get tough even on his own party and this may be something that helped him as far as public opinion is concerned. He has shown that he is really not just a Civic Democrat but a president who stands above political parties."
The high rate of public support would be great news for Mr. Klaus - were it not for the fact that the public will not be electing the next president. Under the Czech Constitution the president is elected by Parliament and his re-election could thus become a highly politicized issue.
Although the present centre-right coalition originally said it would try to push through direct presidential elections, it has since watered down that statement. So, it seems fairly certain that the next head of state will be elected by Parliament - and if there is anything playing in Vaclav Klaus favour it is the fact that there is no rival on the horizon. Even those respondents who claimed they did not want him re-elected were not able to say who should succeed him as head of state.