Czech presidential election, 2013
|The highest number of votes in the districts of the Czech Republic in the second round of the election (blue Karel Schwarzenberg, red Miloš Zeman)|
|This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
the Czech Republic
The first direct presidential election in the Czech Republic was held on 11–12 January 2013. No candidate received a majority of the votes in the first round, so a second round runoff election was held on 25–26 January. Nine individuals secured enough popular signatures or support of parliamentarians to become official candidates for the office. Miloš Zeman (SPOZ) and Karel Schwarzenberg (TOP 09) qualified for the second round of the election.
The incumbent President Václav Klaus is term-limited, thus precluded from seeking reelection. His term ends on 7 March 2013. The newly elected president will begin his five-year term on the day he takes the official oath.
On 26 January 2013, Miloš Zeman won the second round of the election and has been elected the next president of the Czech Republic. He won 54.8% of the second-round vote, compared to Schwarzenberg's 45.2%. He assumed office after being sworn in March 2013.
Since the dissolution of Czechoslovakia and the adoption of a new constitution in 1992, the office of president has been filled by votes by a joint session of the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate of the Czech Republic. The possibility of a directly elected President has been controversial because of concerns that it could weaken a government under the Prime Minister. The 2008 presidential election, which narrowly reelected Václav Klaus after several attempts, however was criticized for the appearance of political deal-making and allegations of corruption. Prime Minister Petr Nečas subsequently put the issue of a directly elected President in his three-party coalition agreement when he formed his government in 2010, in part because of demands by the TOP 09 party, and the Public Affairs and Mayors and Independents parties. Several outspoken opponents of the change however came from the Prime Minister's own Civic Democratic Party.
In September 2011, an amendment was submitted to the Chamber of Deputies for a second official reading, during which the Communist Party (KSČM) tried to reject the bill by sending it back into the review process, but the Czech Social Democratic Party (ČSSD), also part of the opposition, did not support the Communists' motion, and allowed the bill to go ahead with certain changes, including limits on presidential power and penal immunity. On 14 December 2011, the Chamber of Deputies passed the constitutional amendment for direct elections by a vote of 159 out of 192. This was then sent to the Senate, which passed the amendment on 8 February 2012 after five hours of debate by a majority of 49 of 75. The Chief Justice of the Constitutional Court, Pavel Rychetský, criticized the bill's method in which a constitutional amendment was in effect added, though without changing the original text of the constitution, and while leaving the election open to legal and constitutional challenges.
In June 2012 an implementation bill for holding the election passed in the Chamber of Deputies, and in July in the Senate. Though constitutional amendments do not require presidential approval, and cannot be vetoed, President Václav Klaus did need to sign or veto the implementation bill; a refusal could have halted the constitutional changes. Klaus opposed the measure, though saying it was a "fatal mistake" as the country was not ready for such a move. He however signed the law on 1 August 2012. The law is scheduled to take affect 1 October 2012,[dated info] after which Senate President Milan Štěch is due to set a date for the election, following discussions with the Ministry of the Interior.[needs update]
The two-day first round was on 11–12 January 2013. However, because no one secured an absolute majority, a run-off round was held on 25–26 January 2013. Candidates were allowed to spend up to Kč40 million in the first round and Kč10 million in the second round. Each candidate had an election committee that manages campaign funding, which should be run through a special account. All anonymous campaigns contributions were banned.
In order to be a candidate, an individual needs to gather 50,000 signatures from citizens or the support of twenty Deputies or ten Senators. The candidates were bound to file their applications with the signatures sixty-six days before the election; following which the Interior Ministry verified a sampling of the signatures.
The Civic Democratic Party (ODS) held a primary elections in July 2012 to choose their candidate, selecting former President of the Senate Přemysl Sobotka over MEP Evžen Tošenovský. SPOZ, TOP 09, and Suverenita have their party leaders running for the post. Jan Švejnar, who ran for the presidency in 2008 against Václav Klaus, declined to run in order to support Jan Fischer's candidacy.
Vladimír Franz appears insignificant in agency surveys but in November he was the obvious favorite of opinion polls of several different popular news servers and media (Aktuálně.cz, Reflex, iDnes.cz) as well as of so-called "students' elections" in all regions and all types of secondary schools. The current president Klaus expressed fear that his successor would be Franz or Okamura.
The following list includes the candidates who were disqualified after the Ministry of Interior reviewed their petitions assessing that they failed to meet the quorum of minimum of 50,000 popular signatures or twenty MPs in the Chamber of Deputies, or ten MPs in the Senate.
Candidates Jana Bobošíková, Vladimír Dlouhý, and Tomio Okamura collected more than 50,000 signatures; however, after checking two samples of each petition and reducing the number of signatures according to the error rate, the number fell below the requirement; accordingly, they were not registered as candidates. Along with the action, the ministry stated that many of Bobošíková's alleged signatories were long dead; while in case of Okamura, the ministry found a large number of fictitious signatories. Both candidates appealed the ministry's decision before the Supreme Administrative Court, believing that the ministry had used an incorrect method of recount.
On 13 December 2012, the Supreme Administrative Court ruled on the complaints. It ordered that Bobošíková must be registered as a candidate, and rejected the complaints of Dlouhý and Okamura, as even after correcting the error in computation their number of valid signatures still fails to meet the quorum. Okamura unsuccessfully challenged the verdict at the Constitutional Court.
|Candidate||Signatures lodged||Quorum fulfillment after recount||Party||Affiliation prior to
the Velvet Revolution
|Occupation||PPM Factum Opinion poll
27 August 2012
|PPM Factum Opinion poll
6–16 Sep 2012
|PPM Factum Opinion Poll
15 Oct 2012
|59 165||38 687||Independent, formerly Civic Democratic Alliance and Civic Forum||Communist Party
|Economist, former Minister of Industry and Trade||N/A||4.5%||2.8%|
|61 966||35 751||Independent||None||Entrepreneur, Senator||7.3%||6.1%||7.9%|
|Klára Samková||1 076||–||TOP 09, formerly member of Civic Democratic Party, formerly candidate of the Romany Civic Initiative within Civic Forum||–||Attorney, former Member of Chamber of Deputies of the Czech Parliament||–||–||–|
|Petr Cibulka||319||–||The Right Bloc||Dissident||Civic activist||–||–||–|
|Karel Světnička||26||–||Independent||–||state inspector||–||–||–|
|Anna Kašná||unsuccessfully required parliament support||–||The Crown of Bohemia (Monarchist party of Bohemia, Moravia and Silesia)||–||jurist, (wheelchair user)||–||–||–|
|Iveta Heimová||unsuccessfully required parliament support||–||Independent||–||teacher and artist||–||–||–|
|Jindřiška Nazarská||60||–||member of Civic Democratic Party||–||teacher and artist||–||–||–|
Jan Toman from Bechyně filed his own candidature on 6 November but he attached no petition. He was also the attorney of the candidate Karel Světnička, and Karel Světnička was the attorney of Jan Toman. However, a candidate must not be an attorney of any proposer. Jan Světnička surrendered his own candidature on 22 November and remained the attorney of Karel Světnička.
Other announced candidates
The following list includes some of the people who announced their candidacy but the proposal was not filed finally. Some of them started to collect petition signatures.
- Ladislav Jakl, Party of Free Citizens, secretary to President Václav Klaus
- Rut Kolínská, President of the Mother Centres Network
- Karel Randák, former head of the Czech counter-intelligence
- Tomáš Vandas, DSSS
Zeman and Fischer were leading in the polls, but Schwarzenberg's campaign ended on a higher note with a crowd of about 10,000 people at a rally in Prague. Zeman said of the runoff: "It will be a presidential race between a candidate for the left and a candidate for the right. We'll start from scratch for the second round;" Schwarzenberg said of his campaign that he would make the Czech Republic "a successful country." Vladimír Franz called his campaign "a success."
The campaign for the second round started with the agreement of both candidates, Miloš Zeman and Karel Schwarzenberg, not to attack each other and to conduct their campaign in a civil manner. However, when, in the second debate in the Czech Television held on 17 January 2013, Karel Schwarzenberg stated that the expulsion of Germans from Czechoslovakia after World War II would be today (in the 21st century) considered a war crime and the creators of the Beneš decrees (a series of laws dealing inter alia with the status of ethnic Germans and Hungarians in postwar Czechoslovakia in connection with Article 12 of the Potsdam Agreement) would be probably judged by the Hague Tribunal as war criminals, Zeman responded as following: "... he who marks (...) one of the presidents of Czechoslovakia as a war criminal, speaks as a "sudeťák" [Sudeten German] and not as the president". Schwarzenberg has been criticized for the fact that his wife cannot speak Czech and that he spent a part of his life abroad, despite the fact that his family fled from communists when he was a child. It was suggested that members of his family collaborated with Nazis, most notably by the son of the Czech President, Václav Klaus Jr. These charges have been dismissed by historians. President Václav Klaus, his Slovak spouse Livia and son Václav expressed their concerns towards Schwarzenberg, pointing to the complete lack of knowledge of the Czech language of his spouse or to his emigration during the communist era. Schwarzenberg responded that "...the last hundred years have demonstrated that an appeal to the lowest instincts has tragic consequences." Additionally, he countered by claiming that the President Klaus and Zeman created a power group and manipulated his claims. He also called their alleged pact a "fraud on the voters". In a leaked text message to a friend, President Klaus wrote that if Karel Schwarzenberg won the election, he would consider emigration.
The critics of Karel Schwarzenberg mentioned his post in the unpopular cabinet of Petr Nečas. Schwarzenberg, leader of a government coalition party TOP 09, a Vice-Premier and a Foreign Minister, was frequently associated with the Finance Minister and his TOP 09 colleague Miroslav Kalousek, one of the key proponents of the austerity measures and spending cuts in the Czech Republic. In the first round, he received the majority of support by voters in Bohemian regions and in some of the biggest Czech cities, such as Prague, Brno, and Plzeň.
Miloš Zeman, a former successful politician and Social Democratic Prime Minister, announced his comeback and the intention to run in the election in February 2012. He narrowly won the first round, supported mainly by voters from industrial regions such as North Bohemia and Silesia, and smaller towns and villages. He has been criticized for the opaque funding of his campaign; the media pointed to his special relationships with controversial business subjects and lobbyists, such as Miroslav Šlouf and the Russian oil company LUKoil. Some of the issues associated with his previous political activities also reappeared in public. During the pre-election debates, Zeman had to face questions about connections between his former chief advisor Šlouf and the alleged mafia kingpin František Mrázek or about a discrediting campaign against his former colleague, Minister Petra Buzková.
On 22 January, the newspaper Mladá fronta DNES reported that the "massive negative campaign" of Miloš Zeman and his team won him popularity in the online media, while Schwarzenberg's supporters have a majority on social sites, such as Facebook.
During the election, the tensions and rivalries in the Czech society and media culminated to an unusual degree. Some of the commentators and politologists pointed to growing polarization of the society, which was also noted by some of the foreign media, such as The New York Times.
On 26 January, Miloš Zeman won the second round of the election. In his first post-election speech, he thanked his supporters and promised to be the president of all people. He also criticized the media that openly supported only one of the candidates. "Truth and love have finally prevailed over lies and hatred", stated the outgoing President Klaus, paraphrasing the renowned Czech statesman Václav Havel.
Median a Czech agency made a survey to find out what was the reason of the result. According to the survey Zeman was able to gain votes of left-wing supporters of other candidates namely Jan Fischer and Jiří Dienstbier Jr. Schwarzenberg on the other hand a little exhausted his electoral base in the first round and lost some supporters during a debate about Beneš decrees and his membership in Petr Nečas' Cabinet. According to the survey Zeman was an acceptable candidate fo 46% of voters and Schwarzenberg for 35%. 71% of asked expected that the next president will influence the government and will support patriotism.
There were 14,904 polling stations in the Czech Republic, and 102 abroad.
During the second round, in the presence of journalists, Karel Schwarzenberg registered an invalid vote by forgetting to insert his paper into the required stamped envelope.
|Candidate||Party||First round||Second round|
|Miloš Zeman||Party of Civic Rights – Zemanovci||1,245,848||24.21||2,717,405||54.80|
|Karel Schwarzenberg||TOP 09||1,204,195||23.40||2,241,171||45.20|
|Jiří Dienstbier Jr.||Czech Social Democratic Party||829,297||16.12|
|Táňa Fischerová||Key Movement||166,211||3.23|
|Přemysl Sobotka||Civic Democratic Party||126,846||2.46|
|Total valid votes||5,143,966||99.53||4,958,576||99.5|
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