The Czech Republic has elected its first directly elected president. Here is the result:
- Milos Zeman (Czech Social Democratic Party) 54.8%
- Karel Schwarzenberg (Tradition Responsibility Prosperity 09) 45.2%
- Turnout 59.11%
So, consistent with the predictions of commentators like Sean Hanley, former PM Milos Zeman is the new president.
As reported in a recent article, the Czech president has very few powers. So, we have yet another directly elected but figurehead president to add to the list.
That said, the president is not a cipher. According to my figures. PresidentKlaus has vetoed no fewer than 63 bills since 2003. In addition, his decision to amnesty a large number of prisoners at the New Year caused a political storm. So, even if the Czech president is weak, the institution has the capacity to be both politically active and controversial.
Moreover, the election of Zeman will lead to a period of cohabitation. The government of Petr Necas comprises the ODS, TOP 09 and LIDEM parties. The CSDP is in opposition. So, the Czech Republic will get a real taste of semi-presidentialism when President-elect Zeman takes office in March.