Czech presidential candidate Švejnar to run as independent

Czech-American economics professor Jan Švejnar declines to stand as candidate for Social Democrats

Jan Švejnar (pictured) could make up the center-left party's mind for it foto: ©Jan ŠvejnarČeská pozice

Jan Švejnar (pictured) could make up the center-left party's mind for it

Following a meeting with Bohuslav Sobotka, leader of the center-left Social Democrats (ČSSD),  presidential hopeful Jan Švejnar confirmed that he intends to stand as an independent candidate in next year’s Czech presidential elections but will take part in campaign debates organized by the largest opposition party.

Recent polls suggest that the US-based economics professor is a front runner for the post having boosted his public profile by standing in the last indirect presidential elections in 2008.

Švejnar confirmed earlier speculation that he and his associates had decided that he would stand a better chance in next year’s direct presidential elections if he runs as an independent candidate. Following his meeting with Sobotka, however, he said that despite the decision, he will participate in presidential campaign debates previously organized by the Social Democrats.

“As for Jan Švejnar, his priority is to maintain a position as a nonaligned candidate,” Sobotka said after his meeting with the economist on Wednesday evening. Nevertheless, the ČSSD leader could not confirm that Švejnar would not stand as the candidate for another party. “All these options are open,” Sobotka told reporters.

Švejnar told the daily Právo that contrary to earlier speculation he will not withdraw from the campaign debates organized by the main opposition party and will attend one such event due to take place in Ústí nad Labem on Thursday.

Following amendments to the Constitutional law on presidential elections which was signed into law in February, the first ever direct vote in the post-communist Czech Republic to select a new head of state will be held in early 2013. In addition to Švejnar, nine other potential candidates have announced their intention to run, though first they each must collect 50,000 signatures or get the backing from sufficient members of parliament. 

The current Czech president Václav Klaus will not run as he will have served the maximum two consecutive terms in the post. 

Švejnar later said that while meaning to run in the contest to become Czech head of state, he has still not taken a definitive decision.