Presidential candidate Franz supports his rivals' candidacy5:42 am - 09/17/2012
Vladimir Franz, who runs for Czech president in the 2013 direct election, supported his rivals in the presidential contest by adding his signature under their candidacy, he said Tuesday.
Unless a candidate is nominated by a group of parliament members, he needs to produce signatures of at least 50,000 people backing his candidacy to be allowed to run for the head of state.
Only the two most popular candidates have gathered the required number of signatures so far. While former caretaker cabinet head Jan Fischer achieved it yesterday, former left-wing prime minister Milos Zeman made the announcement two months ago.
Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg (TOP 09), senator Jiri Dienstbier (Social Democrats, CSSD) and Senate deputy chairman Premysl Sobotka (Civic Democrats, ODS) have been nominated by their parties.
Franz said he signed the petitions of 12 other candidates whom he considers democratic.
He has called on the other candidates to do the same. He said other citizens should back more candidates at once, too.
Franz said he excluded only far-right Workers' Party of Social Justice (DSSS) leader Tomas Vandas and radical activist Petr Cibulka.
The Czechs will be choosing their president directly for the first time at the beginning of next year.
"Remember that the Czechs were led to the free world, to democracy and the European Union by a playwright, not an economist," Franz said, referring to late Vaclav Havel and probably also outgoing President Vaclav Klaus.
The president should be able to listen to the citizens and "not become a stubborn wiseacre who knows it all," he added.
Franz, 53, is a painter and composer known for his striking appearance. He has tattoos all over his body including his face and bald head.
He is a professor at the Prague Academy of Performing Arts. Before pursuing a career in art, he graduated from the Prague Law Faculty.
He repeatedly said his effort at winning the presidential post is serious.
Franz said he believes his tattoos should not disqualify him from the competition. "It concerns extending our horizon of tolerance. It is almost like skin colour that I have voluntarily chosen," he said.
Franz is definitely not among the favourites of the election, however, his Facebook profile is rather popular.