Watchdog monitors uneven openness in Czech presidential campaign
The first stage of the Czech presidential elections is reaching its climax with voting taking place this Friday and Saturday. The nine candidates seeking to become head of state will be trying to get their final messages through in the next days and that’s likely to mean a rush to the campaign coffers where some are, apparently, more equal and open to scrutiny than others.
Anti-corruption watchdog and good government promoter, Transparency International, has been monitoring the individual campaigns so far. Director of the Czech branch, David Ondráčka, on Monday released some of the results, saying that the intention is to give voters a heads up about spending and openness. He highlighted the trends of some of the biggest spenders, including current president, Miloš Zeman, who is seeking a second term in office:
ʺOverall spending, in our estimate, makes up around 200 million Czech crowns, which is quite a hefty sum for a relatively short campaign.
"Other candidates, let’s take Mr. [Jiří] Drahoš, second in the polls at the moment, has the most sponsors from the corporate sector and large business, even such companies which are related to such controversial things like Mostecká Uhelná, Škoda Transportation and some developers. However, he’s providing information and it seems that he is taking some steps towards transparency.
"Mr. [Michal] Horaček, he’s special because he’s basically self- financing his campaign and he’s not collecting any sponsorship from outside. The issue is that he is also financing his campaign through an external subject which has a transparent account but it is published only every month so you don’t necessarily get fully updated and quick data.
"And last, Mirek Topolánek, he’s very much sponsored by large companies and certain influential individuals."
Ondráčka adds that the spending of the former Civic Democrat prime minister is not that transparent either.
The structure of the campaigns are not so exceptional so far with posters, meetings, and, ever increasingly, social media playing a major role.
The president could be elected this week if one candidate lands more than 50 percent of the votes. If not, the first and second most popular will face off in a second round two weeks later.