PRAGUE,, (Pakistan Point News - APP - 03rd Nov, 2016 ) - A Czech businessman with a popular following as a songwriter and author announced an independent presidential bid Thursday to unseat the country's outspoken incumbent, Milos Zeman. Michal Horacek said he would stage a non-partisan and self-funded campaign ahead of the vote planned for early 2018. "The president's role can be carried out in a way that is more decent, more competent and more open to the public," he told media.
Zeman, an ex-communist leftist who took office in 2013, has made headlines with his strident anti-migrant stance and professed fondness for Russian President Vladimir Putin. Polls give Horacek the best chance among potential presidential candidates to beat Zeman, with an October survey showing him outscoring the incumbent with 47.5 percent to 44 percent in a run-off vote. "The Czech Republic belongs to a larger area, to the European Union and to NATO.
We must be good allies, not silent passengers," he said. Horacek, who began his career writing and composing music in the 1980s, helped initiate negotiations during the so-called "Velvet Revolution" in 1989 between pro-democracy dissidents and the communist regime. Shortly thereafter he launched Fortuna, the nation's first private lottery, which he sold in 2004. With a personal fortune estimated at 15 million Euros (Dollars), Horacek declared on his campaign website he would solicit volunteers but no financial contributions for his presidential bid.
The 64-year-old told journalists he supported Hillary Clinton in the US presidential race. His rival, Zeman, said in September he would vote for Donald Trump if he were a US citizen. Zeman is expected to announce his re-election bid in March. Czech-American economist Jan Svejnar, who lost the 2008 presidential race against Vaclav Klaus and is running high in popularity polls, has not yet declared whether he will run.