On 15 and 29 March Slovakia held presidential elections to find a successor for incumbent Ivan Gašparovič who – having completed two consecutive terms – was not allowed to run again. In my two latest posts for presidential-power.com, I present the results, give an overview of the candidates and discuss the implications of the elections for Slovak politics.
After having kept my blog www.presidentialactivism.com on presidents and politics in Central and Eastern Europe for over three years, a number of other political scientists and I have now joined forces and started a new collaborative blog on presidents and presidential politics around the world: www.presidential-power.com.
We will follow the activity of both directly elected and indirectly elected presidents; we will also post information about how presidents use their powers in different countries as well as information about events that affect presidents. I will be responsible for covering the Baltic states, Central East Europe (Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary), Germany, and Austria. We also have a Twitter account and Facebook page – feel free to follow/like!
I will still post links to any articles that I write for the new blog. I will also keep my Twitter account (@pres_activism) and my Facebook page (facebook.com/presidentialactivism).
Estonian president Toomas Hendrik Ilves © Egon Tintse 2009
A recent opinion poll has shown that Estonian president Toomas Hendrik Ilves has been unaffected by the publication of a wikileaks cable in which he expressed his deep personal mistrust of the mayor of Tallinn, Edgar Savisaar.
Out of the 504 respondents of the TNS Emor poll 78 per cent declared they trusted president Ilves which equals his previous rating. If at all, the affair seems to have had a positive effect on Ilves’ public standing. Out of the 15-24 year old respondents, 2 per cent declared their opinion of Ilves was ‘a little worse’ while 9 per cent declared their opinion was now more positive. A similar effect can be seen in the age group of respondents between 65 and 75 years of age – here, 19 per cent stated their opinion of Ilves had changed for the better while 6 per cent said it had worsened.
An opinion poll by the CBOS showed that president Komorowski remains the country’s most trusted politician. 65 per cent of the respondents declared they trusted Komorowski, while only 15 per cent did not trust him. Once again, the second position goes to the leftist leader Grzegorz Napieralski who – having the same level of distrust as the president – is trusted by 51 per cent of the people. Prime minister Donald Tusk comes in third with 47 per cent trusting and 16 per cent not trusting him. Former prime minister and twin brother of Komorowski’s predecessor, Jarosław Kaczyński, is (again) the least trusted politician – only 21 per cent trust him, while 41 per cent do not.Many analysts have tried to interpret these trends in terms of the electoral results in the forthcoming elections but it is still not clear whether Napieralski can transform his popularity into an electoral success for the Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) – in the past months, support for the SLD has varied greatly between 13 and 21 per cent.
Meanwhile, president Komorowski has still not announced the dates of the next general elections which are due to take place autumn this year. Despite pressures from the government, Komorowski declared he would take his time because he wanted to make sure that Poland will have an elected government at the last big event of its EU presidency (which it takes over from Portugal in July) on December 13, 2011. Furthermore, he wants to consult with the National Electoral Commission about the possibility of holding elections on two days. This possibility was introduced to a recent change to the electoral code but representatives of the electoral commission declared that they might have problems to staff the ballot station on two days in a row. Until now, a one-day election on October 23 seems to be the most favoured election date. Many people had criticised that elections on two days increased the costs from 90 million złoty (€ 22.6 mio) to 140 million złoty (€ 35.2 mio). In case president Komorowski still wants to hold elections on two dates, he would have to wait until August 1, 2011, as the amendments to the electoral code only then come into force.
A recent opinion poll by the IRES institute shows that Romanians generally support president Basescu’s attempts to install a new prime minister. Even though 60 per cent of respondents doubted a change of prime minister would increase public confidence in the government, 65 per cent declared they thought a new prime minister was generally good idea. However, only about 50 per cent approved of the idea of an independent candidate.
Also this week, president Basescu lashed out at the ministry of interior criticising widespread corruption in the apparatus. He was quoted saying that if you ‘stick out your finger, you hit elements of corruption’. Basescu also called for a ‘man-by-man’ investigation of the whole ministry in the course of which corrupted officials should be removed and only the ‘clean’ ones kept. The president’s attacks can be seen as a response to media claims that Basescu had links to the Bercea Mondialu, a well-known figure of the criminal underground who was arrested for attempted murder last week.
Despite an overall public support for the proposal of several political parties to change the mode of election of the president, polls show that Czechs remain sceptical whether politicians are ready to implement the changes.
A poll conducted by SANEP showed that 83.7 per cent of Czechs supported or strongly supported the introduction of direct presidential elections with only 9.4 percent opposing the idea. Nevertheless, only about a third are convinced that changes will actually be made until 2013 and 51.5 per cent of respondents declared they would not expect any changes. An explanation for this is that the proposal was considered several times in the last two decades (as in nearly all countries with indirect presidential elections, this question usually pops up in the forefront or aftermath of presidential elections). Furthermore, some leading politicians – such as the speaker of parliament’s lower chamber, Miroslava Nemcova – are still opposing any changes.
Meanwhile, several politicians have already announced their candidacy; these include former Czech prime minister Jan Fischer, former Czechoslovak prime minister Petr Pithart and economist Jan Svejnar who currently places first in most opinion polls. Quite surprisingly, only yesterday Miroslava Nemcova also added herself to the list of possible contestants during a television interview. According to the SANEP poll mentioned above, she would receive nearly twice as much votes as her ODS party colleague, the deputy chairman of the upper chamber, Premysl Sobotka – the only problem being that currently only 4.4 per cent would consider voting for her.
Estonian president Toomas Hendrik Ilves declared in a TV interview yesterday that he would block a possible entry of the Centre Party into the government after the general elections in 2011. Last week Estonian security police revealed that party leader Savisaar had asked a Russian investor for financial support. According to Ilves this posed a security threat and the Centre Party could not become part of an Estonian government until it condemned and abandoned such practices of party financing. Saavisar, who is also the mayor of Tallinn, rejected calls to resign as he had not committed any crime.
In the same interview, president Ilves said he was ready to run for office again if a party nominated him. His old party – the Social Democrats – already declared their support for Ilves as well as the governing Reform Party. Its junior coalition partner Isamaa ja Res Publica Liit (IRL) has not announced an own candidacy and may support him as well. As, however, a 2/3-majority is needed to elected the president by parliament alone, it is likely that an electoral convention of parliament and municipal representatives has to be convened to elect a president next summer.
A recent poll conducted by TNS Emor among 796 Estonian showed a growing support for the Centre Party (26 percent compared to 23 percent last month) while the governing Reform Party dropped from 46 percent to only 36 percent within the last month. The IRL stagnates at 15 percent.
Vaclav Klaus most trustworthy politician
A poll conducted by the CVVM polling institute has shown that president Vaclav Klaus is the most trusted politician in the Czech Republic.
Out of the sample 65 percent declared that they trusted president Klaus; he is followed by foreign minister Schwarzenberg who received 43 percent. Miroslava Němcová, the speaker of the lower chamber, takes the third place with 34 percent. Klaus is one of three politician for whom more respondents declared their trust than those who distrusted them. The other two are Jiří Pospíšil, the current minister of justice, and the head of the Constitutional Court, Pavel Rychetský who were placed sixth and fourth, respectively.
Trustworthiness of Czech politicians - December 2010
First presidential election polls for 2013
The first poll with regard to the presidential race in 2013 showed surprisingly high levels of support for economist Jan Svejnar who unsuccessfully ran against incumbent Vaclav Klaus in 2008. A poll conducted the Median agency last week showed that 30.7 percent of Czech voters would vote for him if he ran in the direct presidential elections in 2013 when Klaus’ second terms end. Only 9.9 percent would vote for foreign minister Schwarzenberg who is the most likely candidate of the TOP09 party. Svejnar would also defeat Senate deputy chairman Premysl Sobotka.
However, nearly 60 percent have not made up their mind yet which is probably due to the fact that until now no politician has officially announced her/his candidacy. Furthermore, when asked which politician they wanted to be president independently from the likely party-candidacies of Svejnar, Schwarzenberg and Sobotka, a majority of respondents declared they would prefer former prime minister Milos Zeman to all three.