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Surprise In Czech Vote

  • January 13th, 2013
  • Posted by EUEditor

karl_von_schwarzenberg.jpg zeman-milos.jpg Voting in the Czech Republic has seen a surprise strong showing by the aristocratic politician Karel Schwarzenberg, (picture, right), propelling  him into second place in the Presidential race behind the former Prime Minister, Milos Zeman, (left).

Mr Schwarzenberg, 75, (picture, …), the Foreign Minister, is a popular figure, previously a close associate of the leader of the 1989 “Velvet Revolution”, and then President, the late Vaclav Havel. (Picture; see EUAustralia Online, “Vaclac Havel …”, 16.12.11). havel21.jpg

His identity is with the upper echelons of the Austro-Hungarian empire which included the Czech lands, and he sports today the title:  Karel, Prince of Schwarzenberg (in German Karl Johannes Nepomuk Joseph Norbert Friedrich Antonius Wratislaw Menas zu Schwarzenberg), 12th Prince Schwarzenberg (First Majorat) and 7th Prince Schwarzenberg (Second Majorat), Duke of Krumlov; married to a countess with three children, living in Austria.

His party, called TOP09, is on the conservative side, wanting free market policies, but also better integration with the European Union.

He got 21.2% of the votes in the field of nine candidates.

Mr Zeman, 68, (….) is a former communist who led the Social Democratic party for a time and now heads a group called Civic Rights, more centre-left.

He has a reputation as a rough and tough professional politician with a common touch, considered still likely to win in a close tussle, in the match-race second round of voting, on 25-26.1.13.

Jan Fische
r, another ex Prime Minister, centre-right, was running well in earlier polls but has been eliminated with 17% of votes, along with Jiri Dikenstbier (16.7%), a left-wing parliamentarian, and among the last of the “ruffians” (so called by their Communist Party adversaries at the time) who headed the Velvet Revolution movement. Vlad Franz, the professor and artist covered head to toe with tattoes, attracted not only international notice but also enough voters to get it into fifth place.

prague-studyabroad-msu1.jpgIt’s the first election of a President by popular vote since the re-institution of democratic government in 1990; up until now the President has been chosen by parliament.

The outgoing President Vaclav Klaus is having to step down because of a constitutional limit on time in office. He was responsible for an economic deregulation program to recharge the former command economy, while also strongly against further integration into the EU, held to be now holding back trade with European partners. Despite economic battles the Czech Republic has 7.3% unemployment against the EU average of 11.8%, (see EUAustralia Online, “Scourge of unemployment”, 12.1.13). Official corruption has become a problem with the presidential candidates outlining plans to confront it.

Both candidates standing for election at the end of the month are predicted to be more likely to move the country to a more Europe-friendly position.


BBC News,. London, “Czech election: two candidates in second round run-off”, 12.1.13., (13.1.13).

Jan Cienski , “Czech vote set to bring in pro-EU leader”, FT, London, 10.1.13., (13.1.13).

Wikipedia, SY, Karel Schwarzenberg., (13.1.13).

  Wikipedia, prague.studyabroad