Czech presidential candidate Milos Zeman (Party of Citizens´ Rights, SPOZ) would support the introduction of the duty to vote while absentees would be fined some 5000 crowns, he said in a pre-election debate organised by iDnes.cz server today. He said the high absence from elections is one of the reasons of Communists (KSCM) having assumed power in some regions after last autumn´s polls. His counter-candidate, Foreign Minister and TOP 09 chairman Karel Schwarzenberg said the Communists have gained some weight due to the economic crisis and the mistakes the current coalition government of Petr Necas (Civic Democrats, ODS) has made. “I agree with Mr Schwarzenberg that the activities of Necas´s government are naturally one of the factors behind the Communists´ election success,” former Social Democrat prime minister Zeman said. “However, another factor is the low turnout and I believe that the duty to vote would be a solution,” Zeman said.
“Such nostalgic parties that are still thinking of the past regime exist. They have gained some importance due to the economic crisis, the mistakes our government has made and other circumstances. But I am not afraid of them like in 1947 or 1948,” Schwarzenberg said. He was alluding to the Communists having seized power in then Czechoslovakia in 1948. His aristocratic family went into emigration then and he returned only after the fall of the Communist regime in end-1989.
Zeman said British statesman Winston Churchill declared in 1945 the sanction for absence from elections should amount to the price of two luxury dinners. “I think with regard for the relatively low inflation in the Czech Republic that it would suffice to embed a particular sum in the law. I would propose 5000 crowns,” Zeman said.