Czech citizens will be able to choose their future presidents after a constitutional change approved Wednesday by Parliament that took the decision on who occupies the largely ceremonial post out of lawmakers’ hands. The Senate, which is controlled by the opposition Social Democrats, voted 49-22 on Wednesday in favor of the change. Parliament’s lower house gave its green light in December. Both the country’s presidents since the 1989 Velvet Revolution — the late Vaclav Havel and his political archrival Vaclav Klaus — were elected by Parliament. But bickering among lawmakers during those votes led to calls for the change.
Future presidents will be chosen in a popular election that will include a run-off if no candidate achieves a majority in the first round. The next presidential election will be held in early 2013, when the current, Klaus, must step down after two terms in office.
Klaus strictly opposed the change, calling it “a fatal mistake.” He has been concerned the race for the five-year post could turn into a contest between celebrities or other public figures instead of politicians. But supporters of the change said it was a right decision. “I trust the people of the Czech Republic. I trust that voters will responsibly choose the president in the case of popular vote,” Social Democrats deputy chairman and Senator Jiri Dienstbier said.
Full Article: Czech President to Be Elected in Public Vote – ABC News.