Former Premier of Czech Republic Miloš Zeman has been named many things - Moscow's puppet, "Russian spy", former communist... He likes strong language, strong drinks, strong tobacco and he does not like journalists. Nevertheless, last Saturday the son of a postman and a teacher Miloš Zeman became the President of Czech Republic. In the second round, he defeated his rival foreign minister Karel Schwarzenberg with a comfortable majority (55%-45%).

On March 8, the President-elect will enter Prague Castle -once a castle of Czech kings and now the presidential residence. He will take the oath in front of Senate and will become the head of the country for the next five years.

In an interview with political analyst and editor of foreign affairs section of Czech daily "Hospodářské noviny" Martin Ehl, ForUm asked how Miloš Zeman has managed to win despite all his flaws and what to expect from his presidency.

- Mr. Ehl, how would you estimate the first in history presidential elections? Were they honest and transparent?

- The election process itself was transparent enough. As for the style of the election campaign, for the last two weeks it was dirty, aggressive and speculative. Zeman attacked the origin of Schwarzenberg, saying that he was not a true Czech, that he had the second citizenship in Switzerland and that he lived in Austria for a long time. This attack was supported by the outgoing president Václav Klaus. Moreover, a Czech tabloid published an article slamming Schwarzenberg on Friday, one of the election days, when any campaigning was prohibited.

- What was Schwarzenberg's mistake?

- Schwarzenberg is a poor speaker. Moreover, he gave a limp performance in the television debate. He stated that eviction of Germans from Czechoslovakia after the World War II was a crime. Zeman commented on the statement rather aggressively, playing upon fears of older people. 

Moreover, Schwarzenberg had not been expected to reach the second round. It was a surprise and his team was not ready for vigorous onslaught by his rival.

- So, Zeman is the new president. Are there any changes to be expected in republic's future?

- Well, we live in the parliamentary republic and President's authorities are limited. So I don't think we should expect big changes.

However, Zeman bills himself as a pro-European politician, thus Czech Republic will not behave as destructive as under the presidency of Klaus. This is an advantage. Moreover, the President appoints the leadership of the National bank. In fact, to my opinion, the only positive thing of Zeman's presidency is that he will dismiss people appointed by Klaus and will appoint bankers more loyal to the policy of the European Union. 

- During his election campaign, Zeman claimed he wanted to become the President to change the situation in the Czech politics, "where politicians are considered either thieves or idiots, in some cases both". Do you think he will make life difficult for the governing coalition?

- In fact, Zeman may play a negative role in the internal politics. Next year we will have parliamentary elections, and Czech social democratic party stands good chance of winning. Zeman was a founder of this party, but then at some point, they had a conflict and Zeman left the party. Now he is set to revenge. So, most probably, he will try to put sand in the wheels of social democrats.

- Zeman opposes current Premier Petr Nečas, the head of the centre-right coalition of Civic Democratic Party. Will he interfere with work of the current government?

- It is not so simple. For Zeman, Nečas's center-right government is better than the premiership of a representative of social democrats. And it is not about ideologies, but about revenge.

- You said that Zeman is more pro-European than Klaus. Should we expect that Czech Republic would join the euro-zone?

- I don't think it will happen in the nearest future, at least until the crisis is over. The majority of Czech people support such position. As for the rest, I believe Prague will be more loyal and understanding regarding Brussels' policy. However, do not expect that we will transfer from the camp of Euro-realists into the camp of Euro-optimists.

- Zeman does not lean only to the EU, but to Russia as well. Will Prague become closer to Moscow?
- We all know that Zeman's inner circle includes representatives of Russian "Lukoil" company, which probably financed his election campaign, and that people will communist past worked in his campaigning office. However, also the outgoing President Klaus has always been a supporter of Russia. Thus, I don't expect any significant changes in this respect.

- Zeman is a hard-drinking, chain-smoking politician, who does not like mobile phones. Do these features of his character bother Czech people?

- The election results have proved that the majority of voters do not care about it. I am more concerned about Zeman's image. He behaves like a boor. And this is the person who will be the "face" of Czech Republic for the next five years.

Alina Yeremeyeva


Спасибо за Вашу активность, Ваш вопрос будет рассмотрен модераторами в ближайшее время