Lifestyle & Belief

Vladimir Franz, tattooed professor, is 3rd in Czech presidential race


Czech fully-tattooed artist and drama professor Vladimir Franz poses for a picture during his campaign for the Czech presidential elections 2013 on November 5, 2012, in Prague, Czech Republic.


Michal Cizek

Vladimir Franz, a completely tattooed professor at Prague's Academy of Performing Arts, has risen to third place in the Czech Republic's presidential race. 

The 53-year-old drama professor, painter and composer turned to politics after a "group of admirers" peer-pressured him into running, Gawker reported. He's since garnered more than 11 percent of the popular vote in opinion polls, putting him in third place among nine candidates.

Even more impressive, Franz has propelled himself to the top three candidates with a campaign budget of $25,000, distributing posters for a wildly popular Facebook page and creating a staff made up largely of volunteers, including one of the country's leading economists, RT News reported

His full-body tattoos have earned him the nickname “Avatar," and a caller during a televised debate called him "an exotic creature from Papua New Guinea," the Voice of Russia reported

"My tattoos are my private little garden. They are not a handicap, they are added value," Franz told ABC News. "Elections are not a beauty contest. It is all about tolerance."

However, many say Franz's lack of political experience is far more of a concern than his tattoos. 

"Personally, I wouldn't vote for him – but [the tattoos] are not a problem at all," said Tomas Pistora, a 33-year-old IT specialist from Prague, the Guardian reported. "The young people prefer him because they don't have a better choice."

"He is not hungry for power like other candidates," said Jan Herzmann, managing partner of PPM polling, according to ABC News. "All he wants to do is cultivate Czech political scene." 

The election's first round takes place on Friday. 

The favorites — the fiery leftist former Prime Minister Milos Zeman and centrist Jan Fischer, an economist who who recently served as a popular caretaker prime minister — are expected to seek Franz's endorsement for the second round of voting on January 25.

The Czech presidency is largely a ceremonial post. However current officeholder Vaclav Klaus — a long-serving former prime minister who spearheaded the country's post-communist transition — has generated controversy for using his veto power to hold up European Union integration, and for questioning climate change.


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