Just the Facts: Czech Presidential Election

First Round 11-12 January 2013

On the 11 and 12 January 2013, the first round of Presidential elections took place in the Czech Republic. This is the first time that a President has ever been directly elected by the Czech people following a change to the electoral law in February 2012; prior to this the President has been indirectly elected by Parliament.

The Czech Presidency is a largely ceremonial role, with the Prime Minister as de facto head of government. The new President will represent the Czech Republic abroad and appoint candidates to the constitutional court and the central bank, but does not carry much day-to-day power.

General public sentiment for the Presidential election is positive, as it is viewed as an opportunity to move on from a decade marked by the euro-scepticism of President Václav Klaus. The good voter turnout for the first round of 61% reflects this; this figure is comparable with regular Parliamentary elections.

In order to be a candidate, an individual needs to gather 50,000 signatures from citizens or the support of 20 Deputies or 10 Senators. Nine individuals secured enough popular signatures or support of parliamentarians to become official candidates for the office.

Results

Candidate

Party

First round

Votes

%

Miloš Zeman

Party of Civic Rights – Zemanovci

1,245,848

24.21

Karel Schwarzenberg

TOP 09

1,204,195

23.40

Jan Fischer

Independent

841,437

16.35

Jiří Dienstbier Jr.

Czech Social Democratic Party

829,297

16.12

Vladimír Franz

Independent

351,916

6.84

Zuzana Roithová

KDU-ČSL

255,045

4.95

Táňa Fischerová

Key Movement

166,211

3.23

Přemysl Sobotka

Civic Democratic Party

126,846

2.46

Jana Bobošíková

Suverenita

123,171

2.39

Total valid votes

5,143,966

99.53

Invalid votes

24,195

0.47

Total

5,168,161

100

Registered voters/turnout

8,435,522

61.31

Candidate Profiles

Former Prime Minister Miloš Zeman and the current Minister for Foreign Affairs Karel Schwarzenberg emerged on top of the first round of elections, achieving 24.9% and 23.4% of the vote respectively.  Another former Prime Minister, Jan Fischer, who was initially one of the favourites, ended up in third position with 16.9%.

The second round runoff will be held on the 25 and 26 January 2013.

Miloš Zeman is a former Prime Minister, who now heads the centre-left social democratic party ‘SPOZ’, (Party of Civic Rights).  In the past he was leader of the Czech Social Democratic Party, and served as Speaker of the lower House of Parliament. After leaving his party due to political differences and going into retirement, he re-entered politics and established his current party, ‘SPOZ’.  Zeman is known for having transformed a weak Czech Social Democratic Party into one of the country’s major parties.

Karel Schwarzenberg is the leader of centre-right ‘TOP 09’ (Tradition, Responsibility, Prosperity Party ’09) and Minister for Foreign Affairs, he is also a titled prince. His party are aligned to the European People’s Party in the European Parliament. They are known for being Eurocentric and supportive of greater integration to improve the free market. ‘TOP 09’ is now in government with two other centre-right parties.

Both men currently lead their respective parties, although the winner will be obliged to relinquish the leadership upon election.

The Just the Facts is an email information service from European Movement Ireland available to its members. For more information on becoming a member of European Movement Ireland, contact our offices or visit the website at www.europeanmovement.ie

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