Direct presidential vote may get Klaus reelected

Kateřina Eliášová
2. 7. 2008 21:00
MPs agreed to draft a bill on popular vote
Incumbent president Klaus
Incumbent president Klaus | Foto: Tomáš Adamec, Aktuálně.cz

Praha - The coalition leaders agreed Wednesday to draft a bill on direct presidential voting this summer.

It was the Green Party that first provoked the debate on the popular vote. They presented their version of the bill last week, which suggests a referendum on popular vote to be held.

The government, however, failed to talk Friday about the draft and on Wednesday they took a rather neutral stand on the issue.

Besides, PM Mirek Topolánek (Civic Democrats) is known for his dislike of the popular vote.

"We have agreed that the Greens´ proposal would be discussed and the cabinet is expected to take a neutral stand. That means we cannot expect any significant support, nor refusal," stated Greens´ vice-chairwoman Dana Kuchtová.

The chances of the Greens´ draft being accepted are very slim though.

Civic Democrats and Christian Democrats are not big fans of the referendum.

"We believe that the referendum is not necessary. It would be a waste of money. In my view, it is nonsense. We know that most people want the direct vote," said KDÚ-ČSL leader Jiří Čunek.

New lay this summer

The Justice Ministry will draft the bill during the summer. It is not clear yet if the Greens´ version is to be taken into account, though.

The coalition has not reached a consensus yet what the competences of the president would be.

"If the direct vote is enforced, I would promote the president's competences to be extended," said Civic Democrats´ MP Petr Tluchoř.

The opposition - that is the Social Democrats and the Communist Party - have to join in the debate. To enforce a change in the presidential voting system requires a consensus of a majority in both chambers.

The Greens´ bill proposes that a presidential candidate would be nominated by at least twenty MPs, ten senators and/or 10,000 signatures of Czech citizens. It would be a two-round majority election system.

Klaus the third round

The debate about the possible popular vote immediately evoked a question of Václav Klaus´s re-election for a third time.

President Klaus was narrowly re-elected this February,  received the support of 281 deputies and senators.

Should the popular vote pass through both chambers of parliament, there is a high chance the amendment to the Constitution would allow Klaus to enter the presidential election battle for the third time.

Klaus is popular among some Czechs and has become an iconic figure for all the Civic Democrats, the party  he founded in the 1990s. Some of the MPs Aktuálně.cz has asked openly expressed their approval of Klaus becoming the head of the state again.

"He is a good president and I would support him if he decides to run for the third time," says Transport Minister and MP for Civic Democrats, Aleš Řebíček.

 

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