Presidential race kicks off in earnest
The race for president, hereto overshadowed by the general elections, is gathering momentum. November 7th is the deadline for registering in the elections and over the next eight weeks the candidates registered will start campaigning in earnest.
Czech law stipulates that in order to qualify for the ballot, candidates must gather 50,000 signatures from citizens, or win support from twenty deputies or ten senators. The candidates must file their applications and hand over the respective signatures in support of their candidacy to the Interior Ministry 66 days before the election in order to give the ministry time to verify a sample of the signatures.
President Miloš Zeman who is fighting for re-election as an independent candidate announced on Monday that he had collected 113, 000 signatures in his support, telling fans that he was fit and ready to challenge his rivals for the top post. His age and ailing health appear to be his main drawbacks.
The head of the SPD, a nationalist and anti-EU party, Tomio Okamura, announced he would not enter the presidential race after all.
Political parties, who have the power to sway public opinion, are cautious in their stand as to who they will support and none of the parliamentary parties have fielded a candidate of their own.
The incumbent president Miloš Zeman is likely to receive support from left-wing voters and ANO sympathizers because of the close working relationship between him and ANO leader Andrej Babiš.
One thing is clear even now – the country’s next president will not be a woman. The only female candidate, actress Jana Hrušková ,withdrew from the race even before it had properly started.