2008 – The Year of Presidential Elections

The year 2008 is a year of great changes when talking about the heads of states throughout the world. Just to name the two most powerful countries – the USA and Russia – those immensely influential countries are both going to have new presidents this year. The whole world is watching tensely since the role of president is crucial there. However, not only Americans and Russians can expect new presidents to come. Other countries choose their heads of states this year as well.

As you probably know, the Czech lawmakers are electing the country’s president at this very moment. The election is both important and interesting, for the two candidates have very similar chances of being elected. But only one of them can be the winner, of course. Will Vaclav Klaus, the incumbent, have a chance to serve his second term? Or will a US citizen, Jan Svejnar, become the President of the Czech Republic?

As I see it, neither candidate for the presidency is suitable for the job. The first is known as an EU-skeptic and an Anti-global warming activist, whereas the latter has not been living in the Czech Republic since he was 17! Isn’t that crazy?

Fortunately, the role of the Czech President is rather representative, more power is concentrated to the hands of the Prime Minister and the Parliament. The term of office of a Czech president is limited to 5 years. He, or she, can be elected only twice in a row, serving thus 10 years at most.

The voting procedure is not going to be easy. The president must be supported by the majority in both chambers – Chamber of Deputies has 200 seats and Senate 81 seats. This means that he must gain the support of at least 101 deputies and 41 senators. If there is no president elected in the first round, second round follows in 14 days. This time the rules of election change slightly. A president must be elected by the majority of present deputies as well as the majority of present senators. Again, if there is no president elected, the third and last round follows in 14 days. This time a president will be chosen if he gains the majority of deputies and senators who are present. If there is still no president, the process must start all over again.

Five years ago, when Vaclav Klaus moved his office to Prague Castle, 3 round ballots were needed. It is expected that this year there might be more than 1 round as well since the support of both candidates is tight.

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