Presidential campaign winds down with concerts, cakes and War with the Newts

Karel Schwarzenberg, photo: CTK

Campaigning in the country’s first presidential elections is drawing to a close. With polling stations due to open at 2pm on Friday, the pressure is easing up and political debates are being replaced by a party atmosphere at concerts and happenings.

Karel Schwarzenberg,  photo: CTK
Although the nine candidates are due to take part in a final “super-debate” on public television on Thursday night, most have already concluded their campaigns with a concert or public appearance by way of thanking their teams and supporters. Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg attended a concert in his support on Prague’s Jiří z Podebrad square on Wednesday night at which some of the country’s leading ensembles, including the legendary band Olympic, made an appearance. The foreign minister beamed as he pumped hands with young and old supporters sporting badges saying “Karel for President”.

“It’s a wonderful occasion. What’s really great about this is that all these people are my friends. It’s not a commercial event at which singers have been paid to support me.”

Táňa Fischerová,  photo: CTK
On Prague’s Old Town Square actress Tana Fischerová mingled with the crowd at her own happening, thanking supporters and greeting people from the arts world.

“The people here are positively glowing. There’s a feeling that they can change something and that’s what I value the most.”

Former prime minister Milos Zeman basked in the approval of his own supporters at a concert on Old Town Square. Among those who made an appearance were singer Daniel Hulka, Ladislav Kerndl and saxophone player Felix Slovacek. But Mr. Zeman had more celebrities up his sleeve. The country’s first astronaut Vladimír Remek and the country’s number one female singer Lucie Bílá who is reported to be “in his camp”.

“I remember attending Lucie Bílá’s concert in Pardubice. She invited me on state and to my great surprise told the crowd I was her choice for president.”

Ladislav Kerndl,  Miloš Zeman,  photo: CTK
While Mr. Zeman’s team handed out tea and cakes, Jana Bobošíková concluded her campaign on a more formal note, laying a wreath at a monument for WWII war victims. Social Democrat candidate Jiří Dientstbier and Civic Democrat senator Přemysl Sobotka opted for informal debates with their supporters, while former caretaker prime minister Jan Fischer met with his election team to thank them for their good work. Zuzana Roitová ended her campaign a few days ahead of schedule due to illness and composer Vladimir Franz will take his final bow with an opera for which he composed the music. War with the Newts is based on Karel Čapek’s famous novel. The opera premieres at Prague’s National Theatre on Thursday night.