Prime Minister Andrej Babiš (ANO) has admitted that he is considering the possibility of running in the 2003 presidential elections.
In response to a question on his Facebook page, however, he said his decision would depend on whether he received a sufficient number of citizens’ signatures.
Under Czech law, a candidate needs to receive the necessary support from lawmakers (at least 10 senators or 20 lower house deputies) or citizens (at least 50,000 signatures).
The ANO party has 72 seats in the Chamber, so fulfilling that condition would not present a problem.
“President Zeman would like me to run for the post,” Babiš said last week, adding that the ANO movement wants to have a candidate for the presidential elections.
Zeman is confident that he will be able to serve the rest of his term until 2023, despite his unstable health conditions: “I assume that I will fulfill my duties for a year and a half and then I will retire as a happy pensioner,” he said in the interview.
Among other potential candidates, bookmakers have singled out General Petr Pavel, former chairman of the NATO military committee, as well as former presidential hopeful Jiri Drahos, Pavel Fischer, and ex-Prime Minister and President Vaclav Klaus.
Whether he decides to run himself or put all the clout of his party and media empire in favour of another ANO candidate, many also warn that Babis’ will to keep a close ally at the Prague Castle could be a way to shield himself from the numerous affairs of corruption he’s facing, both at the domestic and EU level.