Vladimir Franz, a 53-year-old drama professor, painter and composer, announced that he had collected almost 90,000 votes, making him eligible to run in the presidential elections. The only thing that distinguishes him from other candidates is his heavily tattooed face. Almost 90 percent of his body is tattooed and he also has various body piercings and blue hair.
Some have even nicknamed Franz “Avatar”, and during a televised debate one caller compared him to "an exotic creature from Papua New Guinea."
Franz has no political experience and he admits that he has little knowledge of economics. His election campaign relies heavily on votes from the young population; one of his goal is to legalize marijuana. He says that he spent only $25,000 on campaign costs, relying on volunteers, social media and word of mouth.
Many Czechs, especially in the capital, are not shocked by Franz's look and would vote for him as there is no proper alternative candidate.
"The tattoo doesn't make any difference," said Jakub Fisera, a student in Prague, adding a lack of experience in politics was more of an issue. A 33-year-old IT specialist also from Prague, Tomas Pistora, agrees, “Personally, I wouldn't vote for him – but (the tattoos) are not a problem at all, the young people prefer him because they don't have a better choice."
Franz calls his tattoos body art. His face is a riot of green and red swirls against a background of blue. On his hands is a portrait of Czech composer Bohuslav Martinu, on his chest the crucified Christ.
The first direct presidential election in the Czech Republic will be held on January 11–12, 2013. Previously, the president was elected by the Parliament. A total of nine candidates are running. The favorites of the presidential campaign are Miloš Zeman, the leftist premier in 1998-02, who leads the polls with about 25 percent of voters’ support, and Jan Fischer, a centrist who led a caretaker government in 2009-10, with about 20 percent in the polls.
Voice of Russia, the Huffington Post, Daily News