Václav Klaus insinuates Czechs should not vote for “foreign” Schwarzenberg
Without actually naming any names, the outgoing Czech president, Václav Klaus, appears to have endorsed Miloš Zeman ahead of the second round of the election to succeed him at Prague Castle. Mr Klaus said he hoped his successor would be someone who has spent his life in this country – which would rule out Mr. Zeman’s rival Karel Schwarzenberg, who spent 40 years abroad. But what effect will Mr Klaus’ comments have on the race?
“What’s important to me is that the next president is someone who belongs to this country, who is part of it and has spent his life here, has lived through its bad and good times. That’s my only concern. If anything has been important to me, it’s that this small country survives and does not dissolve in Europe like a sugar cube in a cup of coffee.”
In a Czech Radio debate between the presidential candidates on Wednesday, Mr Schwarzenberg addressed the concerns of a listener who accused him of being a foreigner.
“As for me being labelled an Austrian – it’s true that I lived there for a long time but I have never been a citizen of that country. I have never given up my Czechoslovak citizenship. But I have been faced with this prejudice all my life and I’m used to it. Some things are just thrown at you and there is nothing you can do about it. Another matter altogether is that in 1948 I left this country involuntarily.”
“Endorsing someone like Zeman might seem Mr Klaus wants a politician for president who will follow in his footsteps. But to follow in Klaus’ footsteps right now may not be the most popular thing one can do. So I would argue this may not be what some commentators ironically described as a ‘kiss of death’ but at the same time, it’s not something that would help Miloš Zeman. In fact, it might help Karel Schwarzenberg.”