Czechs vote in first round of presidential election

Photo: CTKPhoto: CTK
The Czech Republic’s first two presidents, Václav Havel and Václav
Klaus, were both elected by lawmakers in joint sessions of the Senate and
the Chamber of Deputies, a system that has since been replaced by a direct
presidential vote.
Five years ago, the first direct vote was won by former prime minister
Miloš Zeman.
Like last time, the two candidates from the group who receive the most
votes will go on to the second round.

On Saturday,January 13, the polls close at 2 pm after which the counting of
the ballots begins. The result should be known by the later afternoon or

If any candidate receives more than 50 percent of the vote in the first
round, they will win the presidency outright and no second round would
needed. But a win in the first round, while a possibility, is considered

If needed, the second round weill see a run-off between the two highest
scoring candidates and would then be in a fortnight, giving the two who go
through time to rally as well as seek pledges of support from candidates
who didn’t make the cut.

Miloš Zeman, photo: Filip JandourekMiloš Zeman, photo: Filip Jandourek
If it comes to a second round, that will be held on January 27 and 28th.

What kind of a role is played by the president? It is important to note
that the Czech Republic is a parliamentary democracy where the prime
minister, not the president, is the key player on the political scene.

The role of the president, while in many ways ceremonial, is still an
important one, in appointing the PM, new governments, judges, generals and
professors and the central bank governor.

The president also puts his signature to legislation or can veto laws
(although that usually serves only as a temporary block which can be
overridden by lawmakers in the Chamber of Deputies).

The president should streamline foreign policy with that of the government,
and of course represents the country’s interests on official visits or
summits and other meetings.

Here is how the presidency is viewed by political analyst Jiří Pehe:

Czech presidential election in USA, photo: CTKCzech presidential election in USA, photo: CTK
“The Czech presidency is constructed in a slightly monarchial way
100 years after the founding of the country and following the Habsburg
empire, it was constructed in 1918 on the legacy of the monarchy. So
although it is a positon with fewer powers, people still want to see
someone in that position who can represent the country well and with

In the run up to the first round of voting on Friday and Saturday, eight
candidates, minus President Zeman, took part in final debates on Czech TV
(Thursday) and at Czech Radio (Friday at 12:30) before polls opened. Mr
Zeman has refused to take part in any debates with other candidates.

Czechs abroad began voting earlier. In the United States, Czechs could vote
from Thursday 8 pm Central European time. Voting is possible in person in
New York, Chicago, Washington, and Los Angeles. Interest in the vote was
said to be higher than in October’s elections to the lower house of
Parliament. The Czech consul in Washington said around 1,000 Czechs were
registered to vote with participation at around 70 percent. Many can also
cast correspondence votes.