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Aiming high: Ex-central banker runs for Prague mayor

29. 7. 2010 18:18
Current city hall unpopular due to controversial public projects. Will TOP 09 seize opportunity?

Prague - Former governor of the Czech Central Bank Zdeněk Tůma officially presented his candidature for Mayor of Prague, the Czech capital and one of the richest regions in the EU.

He will run for the conservative TOP 09, a party founded less than a year ago that came third in the late-May 2010 legislative election.

Tůma quit his job of the governor of the Czech National Bank only a few weeks ago. And, in the fall this year, he is going to run for one of the most high-profile - and heatedly contested - political posts the country can offer.

Read more: The richer Prague is, the greater decay it faces

Tůma is supposed to be one of the symbols of the "change" the party led by Prince Karel Schwarzenberg has promised to voters in Prague, where the party entertains very high support, above all among the young.

„Prague is something beautiful, however let's face it, the political situation is not the happiest one, and even in Prague, necessary reforms and procedural changes need to be implemented in order to eliminate the flaws that were taking place," Schwarzenberg told to the media.

Allegedly, it was Schwarzenberg himself who personally persuaded Tůma to enter the world of top politics. „He said that currently, there is an opportunity to change many things, and it may not repeat itself very quickly," Tůma said, adding that his electoral campaign is going to be based on a call for a change in the Prague city hall.

This would put him against the ODS, the strongest right-wing party of the Czech Republic that has dominated Prague's politics for many years.

Ironically, the ODS leads the center-right government coalition formed after the legislative election in May whose member is also the TOP 09 itself. The third member of the coalition is another new face of the Czech politics, the centrist Public Affairs.

Read more: New Czech government: radical reforms, no rush for euro

Tůma says that a similar coalition could be formed even in the Prague city hall, however he refused to discuss possible alliances before the municipal elections which are due to take place in the fall this year. „I hope we will be given a strong mandate," Tůma said.

In an interview with Aktuálne.cz, Tůma refused to comment directly on some controversial projects implemented by the city hall currently led by Pavel Bém from the ODS saying that he is not familiar with details. However, he said it is "doubtless" that huge resources have been used on them, with not very satisfying results.

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Current leadership of the Prague city hall, and Mayor Pavel Bém in particular, has very low popularity among Prague constituents.

"Modern city, not a museum"

Asked about how he would like Prague to be after his four-year term, were he to be elected, Tůma said: "Prague should be a modern city, not an outdoor museum. Thus we need to create a space for modern architecture and modern art."

Also, Tůma said that he has not become a member of the TOP 09 yet, but he will because in order to successfully run for the office, he will need a political support.

autor: Jan Němec | 29. 7. 2010 18:18

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