Petr Pavel in Brno, 1 March 2022. Credit: Martin Strachon via Wikimedia Commons (CC-BY-SA 4.0)

Petr Pavel Leads Presidential Candidates In Total Donations

Retired general Petr Pavel has so far received the most financial support from donors for his campaign out of the candidates for the Czech presidency, and businessman Karel Janecek, who is covering the costs of his own campaign, has had the highest spending so far, according to analysis of the candidates’ transparent accounts.

Several candidates have hundreds of thousands of crowns in their transparent accounts.

The candidates had to release information about their transparent accounts for the presidential campaign from 6 July. So far, three women and 12 men have reported their accounts to the Office Supervising the Financing of Political Parties and Movements, and one candidate has enabled access to his account via his campaign website.

Mathematician Janecek has sent almost CZK 4.5 million to his account, of which he has so far spent CZK 4.2 million.

Pavel, former Czech army chief-of-staff and former head of the NATO Military Committee, has the second highest campaign spending so far, of some CZK 780,000, mostly used for printed materials and collecting signatures for his candidacy. Supporters and sponsors have donated almost CZK 4 million to his campaign in total, ranging from small donations of a few hundred crowns, to large corporate donations such as the CZK 500,000 donated by Ondrej Fryc, the founder of the Internet shop

Businessmen Tomas Brezina and Karel Divis are using only their own money, as their transparent accounts reveal. Brezina has sent just under CZK 550,000, of which he has spent around CZK 23,000 so far, and Divis has sent CZK 300,000 to his account, using around CZK 210,000 to collect signatures from the public.

Former Energy Regulation Office head Alena Vitaskova has so far collected CZK 770,000, and has spent more than CZK 500,000. Her donors are mainly firms connected with the energy industry, such as Gazoprojekt Czech, Elgas and Gascontrol.

Senator Marek Hilser has received CZK 300,000 in total, and almost all the money was transferred from the account that supported his candidacy for the Senate.

Former Charles University rector Tomas Zima has already gathered about CZK 870,000, half a million of which was provided by his main backer, businessman Jiri Malus. Zima has spent most of the sum on his campaign design, promotional material and public relations.

Former Mendel University Rector Danuse Nerudova has almost CZK 1 million in her election account, but has so far spent very little on her campaign. She received half a million crowns from businesswoman Alexandra Kala, and transferred over CZK 400,000 from her pre-election transparent account.

Trade union leader Josef Stredula has under CZK 160,000 in his account, mostly from the Together for People association, which according to media reports will assist him with his candidacy, while he himself sent CZK 50,000 to the account.

Josef Skala, the candidate of the extra-parliamentary Communist Party (KSCM), has collected around CZK 280,000, mainly from small donors, but he sent part of this money back to them as they did not meet the sponsorship requirements. KSCM has given him CZK 35,000.

Former senator Libor Michalek has under CZK 160,000, including CZK 50,000 from the Vision for Czechia movement, which he chairs, and a similar sum from his personal funds.

Ivo Mares, a theologian and media expert, and Denisa Rohanova, who heads an association defending the rights of debtors, so far have only tens of thousands of crowns in their accounts.

A further two candidates for president, who have no financial transactions connected with the campaign yet, also recently registered their accounts with the supervisory office. These were Milan Rokytka, a former reporter with the Communist Halo noviny newspaper, and Lumir Laska, who calls himself Buddha.

The limit for a candidate’s spending on the campaign is CZK 40 million before the first round of the presidential election and another CZK 10 million before the second round. The supervisory authority will assess the campaign spending after the elections. The election costs are calculated from the declaration of the election date, which took place in early July.

Candidates who have not yet confirmed their participation in the presidential race, such as ANO chairman and ex-PM Andrej Babis, will have to report their campaign expenditures retroactively. Babis intends to announce the decision on his candidacy for president at the last moment, in early November.

Pavel has not officially announced his candidacy either, but he said in June he would run in the presidential election and would announce it officially this month. Stredula and Nerudova have started collecting signatures in their support, which are necessary for the candidacy.

The first round of the third direct presidential election in the Czech Republic, to choose a replacement for Milos Zeman, will be held on 13-14 January 2023, and the second-round runoff vote, if necessary, would take place two weeks later, on 27-28 January.