The Race for Prague Castle Heats Up
by Dr Alison Smith
For months, the Czech Republic’s first presidential election looked like a straight fight between two former Prime Ministers, Jan Fischer and Milos Zeman. However, the field has opened up in the final week.
While Zemen, a veteran leftist, looks certain to make it through to the final round, Fischer, a technocratic former statistician, has looked lacklustre, spectacularly underperforming in the public debates. As one commentator put it, ‘emptiness surfaced behind trained gestures‘.
The Czech Republic bans opinion polls in the closing days of the campaign, making predictions difficult. However, the final poll on Monday suggested that Fischer’s support had fallen to 16.2%, while the support of Karel Schwarzenberg, the country’s aristocratic foreign minister, had risen to 14.2%.
Although still in third place, Schwarzenberg’s campaign has gained momentum, having picked up support from two quarters: those who like neither Zeman nor Fischer; and those on the centre-right who now doubt whether Fischer will be a viable candidate against Zeman in the second round, which is due to be held on 25th-26th January.
Political Developments will keep you informed as the results come in.