Vladimir Franz: the coolest lecturer ever?
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All of us have a great lecturer who inspires us, lets us out early and brings in cakes at the end of term. But none are quite like Vladimir Franz, who is running in the Czech Presidential elections. Vladimir is an opera composer, painter, and lecturer at the Prague Academy of Performing Arts, and is known around the Czech capital for his distinctive tattoos (he is even nicknamed ‘Avatar’). Perhaps an unlikely political candidate, Vladimir is an independent whose ‘politics are moderate, promoting tolerance, human rights, democracy and encouraging the search for alternative energy sources’. Vladimir is also an accidental candidate – fans set up a ‘Franz for President’ campaign and begged him to run as an alternative, despite his lack of economic or political experience. Vladimir is a breath of fresh air for thousands of Czechs bored with a stale, allegedly corrupt political system – his campaigners work for free and he found 88,000 public signatures to endorse his candidacy. While some people sneer at Vladimir or call him eccentric, education campaigner Karel Strachota explains his particular popularity with young people as ‘a candidate who is not tainted by politics. They look with sympathy at his nonconformity and the way he presents himself’. Vladimir, who also has a doctorate in law, is currently third place in the polls. He is unlikely to reach the second round of voting, but it’s said that he could play ‘kingmaker’ in a runoff between the top two candidates, former prime ministers Jan Fischer and Milos Zeman. President of the Czech Republic is a largely ceremonial post and this is the first time it will be elected in a popular vote. And if he doesn’t win, Vladimir has other things to keep him busy...like his new work ‘War with the Newts at the Stage Opera’, being staged at Prague’s national theatre.