Film, fashion, and public polls say Czechia is ready for a woman president

Many Czechs feel a female head of state is long overdue and cultural references to a future female leader are growing.

 William Nattrass

Written by William Nattrass Published on 25.03.2022 17:00:00 (updated on 25.03.2022) Reading time: 3 minutes

A letter already lies in wait for the woman destined to be the Czech Republic’s first female head of state.

“At the time of the writing of these lines, you are not in office, you are not elected, you have not passed the first or second round of elections, you have not been reported on in the newspapers, your campaign has not taken place, your face is not even known. But believe me, we have been thinking about you for a long time. You are in our wishes and dreams.”

The letter was written by designers Nastassia and Pavel Kahotski, who prepared a special collection of glasses for the as-yet unknown first female Czech president. The project, entitled Glasses for the President, features a range of glasses named after the four stoic virtues of temperance, wisdom, justice, and bravery, with a fifth virtue “love” added.

The glasses are available to buy from the Nastassia Aleinikava studio, whose owners originally hail from Belarus but studied and work in Prague.

Meanwhile, cultural references to a first female Czech president are growing. A new film slated for release this year, entitled “Prezidentka” and starring popular Czech actress Anna Geislerová, will tell the story of a female Czech president exercising her duties as an inspirational leader while also finding love.

“We wanted to offer a look behind the façade of political functions and professional roles. We tried to create a character that could inspire people and remind us that loving and being loved is something each of us needs. Whatever position we hold in society,” explained director and screenwriter Rudolf Havlík.

The growing pressure for a female to take up the highest position in the land, seated at Prague Castle, comes with the end of the second term of current president Miloš Zeman approaching in a year’s time.

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A poll conducted by the STEM/MARK institute in February and released earlier this week suggested that over half of Czechs want the next president to be a woman. 65 percent of respondents said they want a female head of state.

Meanwhile, four-fifths of Czechs can now imagine a woman as president. This demonstrates the significant change in recent years away from previous traditional attitudes, aided by strongly positive perceptions of Slovakia’s female president Zuzana Čaputová, who was recently revealed as Czechs’ favorite foreign leader.

Yet the chances of a woman becoming the next Czech president are still unclear. The bookies' favorite remains former Prime Minister Andrej Babiš, although the effects of an ongoing criminal investigation into his involvement in the “Stork’s Nest” case of alleged EU subsidy fraud on popular opinion could damage his predicted candidacy.

Popular options for female presidential candidates include ODS Senator Miroslava Němcová, who pollsters found has strong support from 11 percent of the population and is seen as an option by a further 36 percent. Another choice is Dana Drabová, the head of the State Office for Nuclear Safety, who has nine percent firm support and 36 percent potential support.

Babiš, on the other hand, has 17 percent strong support and an additional 34 percent who may vote for him.

Other potential female candidates for the presidency are state attorney Lenka Bradácová, former head of the Energy Regulatory Office Alena Vitášková, and popular economist and former Mendel University chief Danuše Nerudová.

Others who have already announced their candidacy are Denisa Rohanová, the head of the Czech Association of Debtors, and Klára Long Slámová, a lawyer and former politician.

With this range of potential candidates, there’s a clear chance for the 2023 election to be a major step towards rectifying underrepresentation for women in Czech politics.

While lacking a female president, the Czech Republic has also never had a female prime minister, and current TOP 09 leader Markéta Pekarová Adamová is only the second ever female leader of a Czech parliamentary party.

In the general election held last October, 25 percent of elected deputies were women. This was an increase on the previous election held in 2017, but still a much lower proportion than seen in countries such as Germany and Britain, where female MPs now make up more than a third of lawmakers.

What’s more, the new Czech coalition cabinet has only three female ministers out of 18 possible positions, showing that despite a more progressive legislative agenda than the previous government, the current Czech administration still has a long way to go in promoting gender equality.

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