Former candidates settle accounts
Winners and losers of presidential race seek to balance expenditures
Posted: February 27, 2013
Funds are still trickling into president-elect Miloš Zeman's campaign account as he and other former candidates settle their finances after last month's presidential race. Vladimír Kruliš, the election manager for Zeman's campaign, says money continues to flow in and out of the former prime minister's transparent bank account, but that it is currently too soon to know whether any funds will be left over.
As of press time Feb. 26, the balance on Zeman's account with Česká spořitelna stood at just under 350,000 Kč ($18,000/14,000 euros). Kruliš told The Prague Post it was "hard to say what will be left" as the campaign is still being invoiced for advertising materials such as posters and billboards. Whatever remains will go to charity in accordance with the election law, he said.
Kruliš also explained how some sponsors have contracts to pledge further donations, with more than 4 million Kč received in February alone. Under legislation set out by the Interior Ministry, all presidential candidates have 60 days from the date the election result was declared to submit their final accounts to the Senate's mandate and immunity committee.
Zeman, who officially celebrated his upcoming presidency at a party in Prague Feb. 25, will be inaugurated March 8, one day after the incumbent Václav Klaus leaves office. The 68-year-old's path to the castle was finally cleared Feb. 19, when the Supreme Administrative Court dismissed all 109 complaints relating to the election, thereby confirming his victory over Karel Schwarzenberg in the vote's second-round runoff.
But despite this news, Zeman's campaign financing remains the subject of intense media speculation. First, during the election period, his team was forced to deny money had come from Russian sources, notably the energy giant Lukoil. Then, in the immediate aftermath of their success, Vratislav Mynář - the chairman of Zeman's Party of Civic Rights (SPOZ) - raised eyebrows by admitting expenditures would reach 30 million Kč, instead of the 3 million Kč first thought.
Adding fuel to the fire, reports surfaced in weekly Respekt magazine that SPOZ, via the controversial lobbyist Miroslav Šlouf, was given 30 million Kč by sponsors of the conservative Civic Democratic Party (ODS) in 2010. That was in return for Šlouf allegedly persuading two Social Democratic Party MPs to leave the party and allow the ODS to rule the country in 2007.
Mynář played down the credibility of those remarks, while Šlouf - formerly one of Zeman's right-hand men - left his position as president of the Prague branch of SPOZ Feb. 24, apparently following the expiration of his two-year elected term.
Meanwhile, one of the eight defeated candidates, Jan Fischer, has had his campaign debts settled by businessman Tamir Winterstein, according to daily Mladá fronta Dnes Feb. 22. Fischer, who finished third in the election after initially being the main contender, previously owed as much as 8 million Kč in unpaid invoices.
Jonathan Crane can be reached at