>Czech Republic: Online Klaus campaigners turn to the people

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Signs of possible nervousness in the Klaus camp, as a new website Volimklause.cz (loosely translatable as MyVoteGoesToKlaus.cz) comes online amid a flurry of pro-Klaus spamming to publicize it (including one to me). This is all a little odd as, of course, it is the Czech Republic’s deputies and senators who elect the President – ordinary citizens don’t have a vote to go to anyone. The objective of the web campaign, which is(it claims) a citizen initiative on the part of half a non-political dozen bankers and businesspeople, seem to be build up cross-party public consensus for Klaus, building on his high approval rates, take the edge off Jan Švejnar’s non-partisan appeal- and perhaps making it easier for a few opposition deputies to sneak a vote Klaus’s way (as some dissident Social Democrats clearly did in 2003) – and to make the case for direct election of the Czech President.

This is something that the right has not traditionally been keen on and the left and liberal centre has usually favoured. However, as is traditional in Czech politics, these positions are reversed in the run up to a close run president contest in which Klaus is standing. Volimklause.cz thus kicks off with the usual conservative argument that direct election of the head of state is not part of the Czech constitutional tradition, but then works its way to the conclusive that undignified political horse trading between parties (very much party of the Czech constitutional and political tradition – and why not?) might make it a good idea to ‘reopen discussion’ on the issue.

Needless to say, I haven’t, however, joined the 4000 odd Czech swho have signed up, partly because as an outside academic observer it is none of my business, but also because I don’t know who I would vote. The virtual political options market on the Czech Presidential elections running on OpenDemocracy.net shows Klaus stocks trading quite strongly at a 58% chance of re-election.

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