2008 Czech Presidential Elections: A Commentary
Again after five years, the attention of the Czech public and politicians was focused on the Presidential elections, one of the most important milestones of 2008 in terms of Czech political developments. The outcome of the last elections in 2003 was a little surprising as the candidate of the Civic Democratic Party (ODS), Vaclav Klaus, represented the opposition party without the necessary majority in both houses of Parliament. Instead, the ruling coalition of the Czech Social Democratic Party (CSSD), the Christian-Democratic Union – Czechoslovak Peoples Party (KDU-CSL), and the Union of Freedom – Democratic Union (US-DEU), accompanied by some independent and small party Senators was able – just mathematically – to elect its own candidate. However, a split in the major coalition party CSSD, and support given to Klaus by the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia (KSCM), brought the Honorary Chairman of the ODS, Vaclav Klaus, to the Presidential office.
In February 2007, on the day of the forth anniversary of his first election, Klaus announced that he would seek reelection in 2008. His party, the ODS, later formally approved his nomination and filed his candidacy later in 2007.
Klaus succeeded in his reelection attempt, but the way to defending the Presidency was long and complicated. In 2003 members of both houses of Parliament, who – according to the Constitution of the Czech Republic – elect the President at the Joint Session, had to meet three times before they elected the President, and each attempt took three rounds. Also, this time legislators had to meet repeatedly. Klaus won in the third round of the second election process. This year’s elections were enriched by new instruments of the political culture. It showed that the Presidential elections can be accompanied by filibustering, blackmailing, pressure, gunpowder and bullets in envelopes, mysteries concerning the disappearance and absence of some members of Parliament; all of which occurred in an environment of the negative evaluation the public gives – in a long-term perspectives – to politicians and politics generally.