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Main focus of Monday, January 14, 2013

Czechs for Zeman or Schwarzenberg

Zeman won around 24 percent of the vote while Schwarzenberg secured around 23 percent. (© AP/dapd)

The presidential election in the Czech Republic has come down to a race between left-wing ex-prime minister Miloš Zeman and the conservative Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg. Schwarzenberg did surprisingly well in the first round on Friday and Saturday. According to commentators, the voters must now make their choice between two different types of politician, but whatever the outcome they will have a worthy president.

Mladá fronta dnes - Czech Republic

Havel and Klaus will have a worthy successor

A runoff vote between the former left- wing prime minister Miloš Zeman and conservative foreign minister Karel Schwarzenberg will decide who takes over the helm from Czech President Václav Klaus. The liberal daily Mladá fronta Dnes praises the voters for ensuring that these two politicians emerged as the winners of the first round: "The Czechs have proven that when it really matters they can make a good decision. The fears that a mousy person could win out in the direct election have not been confirmed. … Zeman and Schwarzenberg are the best possible duo for the decisive runoff vote, meaning we will see a confrontation between two real personalities. It's particularly pleasing to see that both are starting out with equal chances of winning. … The good news of this election is that after Václav Havel and Václav Klaus we certainly won't have a second-rate politician in Prague Castle." (14/01/2013)

Hospodárske noviny - Slovakia

Czechs will vote on values

Voters will be deciding between two different sets of values in the run-off presidential vote, the business paper Hospodárske noviny writes: "Schwarzenberg embodies the old values. Not just the old Bohemian aristocracy, but above all the tradition of a moral authority as personified by [former presidents] Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk and Václav Havel. Even though Schwarzenberg belongs to a government that has been completely compromised, he is first and foremost an internationally respected foreign minister. ... Zeman, by contrast, is a true heavyweight of modern Czech politics. A great strategist and a gifted speaker, if you overlook the occasional vulgarity, that is. But above all he's a symbol of the new mafia politics, for which he created optimal conditions as prime minister. Time will tell which values and which state the Czechs want." (14/01/2013)

Die Tageszeitung taz - Germany

Schwarzenberg follows in Havel's footsteps

The conservative Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg will win the runoff vote in two weeks and become the next Czech president, the daily taz believes, because it is in him that the young generation has put its hope: "Schwarzenberg represents what they, and many older people too, want most from the era after Václav Klaus: a sense of decency, self-assurance and openness. ... Schwarzenberg hails from the most prominent noble family in Bohemia, a house that has always lent its support to the Czechoslovakian state. And he himself kept up this tradition from exile by helping Czech dissidents and giving them a voice on the international stage. Schwarzenberg isn't a Czech, he's a Bohemian, a Central European. ... As president he won't be able to perform miracles, for that he lacks the mandate. But he will follow in the footsteps of Václav Havel, whose death tore a huge gap in Czech society. And he should be able to strike a new tone in Czech politics and society. Because he stands above the political rat race." (14/01/2013)

The Economist - United Kingdom

Fischer outfoxed himself

Former prime minister and co-favourite Jan Fischer came in third in the first round of the Czech presidential elections, with around 16 percent of the vote. A poor campaign strategy is to blame, the liberal magazine The Economist writes: "Some analysts have speculated that Mr Fischer launched his campaign too early and thus ran out of steam by the time voters took to the polls. Meanwhile, Mr Schwarzenberg was a non-factor for months before coming on in the final weeks and likely taking votes from Mr Fischer. The urbane, easygoing foreign minister was the favoured candidate of hipster urbanites and his campaign included t-shirts and pins depicting him with a pink Mohawk haircut and the phrase 'Karel for President' - in English. ... Mr Schwarzenberg will have to broaden his appeal in the second round in order to defeat Mr Zeman, though he can likely count on the support of the bulk of the 16.4 percent of people, including business elites, who backed Mr Fischer." (13/01/2013)

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