Rejected presidential candidate lodges complaint against election law

Tomio Okamura, photo: CTK

Rejected presidential candidate Senator Tomio Okamura on Thursday lodged an extensive complaint with the Constitutional Court against the election law that sets the framework for the country’s first popular vote. His protest, based on the claim that the law is unconstitutional, may jeopardize the first round of the election set for January 11 -12.

Tomio Okamura,  photo: CTK
The country’s first direct presidential election was expected to hit a few technical snags along the way, but in the past few weeks it has run into greater problems than anyone anticipated. When nine rejected candidates complained they had been discriminated against by the Interior Ministry the Supreme Administrative Court ruled that their complaint was partly justified and that the ministry had wrongly calculated the average error rate on their petitions. Not only was this confirmation of an ambiguous and potentially problematic legislation, but the judges’ panel split 4:3 over the verdict with a number of respected judges arguing that the law was so poorly drafted it should not be allowed to serve as a framework for the country’s first direct polls. Although the Supreme Administrative Court formally gave the election the green light, returning one disqualified candidates into the race, newly-elected Senator Tomio Okamura has taken it upon himself to take the case to the Constitutional Court. At a press conference in Prague on Thursday he said he was fully aware of what was at stake and had given the matter careful deliberation:

“I have come to the conclusion that having the first direct presidential election postponed is not the worst possible scenario; a far worse option would be an election held on the grounds of an unconstitutional law, accompanied by dubious decisions that are highly questionable. This law gives people the illusion that they are electing the next head of state but it does not guarantee a free, fair and direct presidential election.”

Constitutional Court | Photo: Tomáš Adamec,  Czech Radio
Senator Okamura has not been mincing his words in interviews for the media. He is clearly harbouring the suspicion that the Interior Ministry intentionally used an ambiguity in the law to weed out certain candidates and even indicated that the ruling of the Supreme Administrative Court had been politically motivated. Paradoxically, the lawyer representing him, Klára Samková, herself is a rejected candidate and is filing a separate complaint about the legislation questioning several articles, including the criteria set for entering the race. Economist Vladimir Dlouhý, whose lawyers have also questioned the legislation is holding back for the present time, saying he does not want to jeopardize the election, but he has said that if it has to be postponed on the grounds of other candidates’ complaints, he would challenge it as well.

Although dark clouds are gathering over the country’s first direct presidential election preparations for it remain on track. All eyes are now on the Constitutional Court which has said it will give the matter top priority and try to come to a decision as soon as possible.