Czech Constitutional Court Confirms Presidential Election Date

The Czech Constitutional Court ruled that the country’s first direct presidential elections may take place next week after reviewing a complaint filed by a candidate excluded from the vote.

The court, based in Brno, the Czech Republic’s second-largest city, said today that the first round of elections may be held Jan. 11-12 as planned, spokeswoman Jana Pelcova said by phone today. The court earlier reviewed a complaint from Tomio Okamura, who was excluded from the vote.

Okamura was eliminated from running for president after the Interior Ministry said he failed to collect the 50,000 signatures needed to run. Okamura asked the court on Dec. 27 to postpone the election and eliminate the condition for candidates who weren’t nominated by the party to collect 50,000 support votes ahead of the ballot. He was eliminated along with Vladimir Dlouhy after the ministry said some of the signatures the candidates presented weren’t valid.

The president, whose responsibilities include appointing members to the central bank’s policy making board, was previously elected for a five-year term by lawmakers. President Vaclav Klaus’s second term in office ends in March. Leading candidates for the post are former prime ministers Milos Zeman and Jan Fischer, according to latest opinion polls.

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