Monday, January 21, 2013

News from the Czech Republic

We  have had the first round of the first direct election of the President of the Czech Republic. 24.2 per cent of the vote went to Milos Zeman and 23.4 per cent to Karel Schwarzenberg (or Prince Schwarzenberg if we are going to be pedantic). So much for the suggestion that the Czech Republic could have the first Jewish Head of State outside Israel.

We have news of Karel Schwarzenberg launching a phone campaign and generally rolling out a personal campaign while Milos Zeman intends to concentrate on the internet and on catching up with his rival  in social networks.

Outgoing President Klaus, unsurprisingly has tried to endorse Milos Zeman. He could not do it openly because of his own position but stated that he would prefer his successor to have spent his life in the country, which excludes Karel Schwarzenberg who has spent much of his life  in Austria, having left Czechoslovakia involuntarily, as he has pointed out, in 1948.
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.”
Of course, as Radio Prague, points out President Klaus's endorsement might not be all that useful, especially after the somewhat controversial amnesty announced earlier this month. Schwarzenberg has never hidden his life story so, one must assume that people who vote for him know the facts.(I know that is a tall assumption with an electorate in any country.)

Others are also joining in the fight. Carl Bildt, a man of dubious political attitudes, has pronounced on his blog (in Swedish and sent to me by a regular reader of this blog) that the Czechs really should vote for Karel Schwarzenberg, friend of Carl Bildt.

According to Mr Bildt, his friend is eminently qualified for the position but, alas, has to withstand the poisonous arrows of narrow nationalism. He does rather graciously allow that the choice is the Czech Republic's but adds somewhat grimly that the result will tell "us" something about that country.

The next round is due on January 25 - 26.


  1. I went to vote for Mr Fischer with a heavy heart at the Cz embassy. Mr Fischer didn't do well during TV discussions...his communist past right till the end didn't help either. Mr Zeman would defend the Jews much more than him, I fear. During the debates Mr Zeman mentioned Oriana Fallaci and his views on islam are well known...Do I want him as president of the Czech Republic? If I vote this week again I think I'll toss a coin...They are both very much pro-EU so Brussels will have an easy ride...Mr Fischer is very much pro EU too.

  2. @Fairy: From Lubos Motls The Reference Frame:

    "But at any rate, while I am not scared by any personal characteristic of the prince, I am scared that in the case that he defeats Zeman, the true victors will be the aggressive defenders of the political correctness who will do anything and everything to harass, suppress, and worse all the people who believe in some old values, who believe in the existence of our nation and the need to protect it, and those who still have common sense and rudimentary knowledge when it comes to nations, races, sexes, and other things.

    I am afraid that Schwarzenberg's victory would be a green light to various feminist, Euronaivist, reverse racist, and other degenerative and dishonest ideologies that are plaguing much of the West and that the Czech Republic has been relatively immune to so far – partly due to President Klaus but not only because of him personally. With MiloŇ° Zeman at the Castle, my worries about these scenarios are greatly diminished – in spite of that he calls himself a "eurofederalist". Zeman has personally always tried to probe the limits of the freedom of speech by his own witticisms and he isn't afraid to point out the idiocy of anyone (including himself) as he believes that a left-wing idiot may be as good an idiot as a right-wing idiot. ;-) "


  3. Thanks for both comments. They do shed interesting light on the situation. If I were Czech I think I would vote for Mr Zeman as well. But I also happen to prefer Vaclav Klaus to other Czech and, indeed, European politicians.