Zeman wins first round of presidential election in czech republic

Zeman wins first round of presidential election in czech republic

Incumbent milos zeman has clearly won the first round of the presidential election in the czech republic. But the 73-year-old must face a runoff election in two weeks against nonpartisan chemistry professor jiri drahos.

Zeman, who positions himself as an opponent of immigration and a friend of russia, received 38.6 percent of the vote after virtually all ballots were counted.

The 68-year-old drahos achieved 26.6 percent, followed by the former ambassador to france, pavel fischer, with 10.2 percent. This was announced by the statistical office of the CSU. The remaining six candidates achieved single-digit results.

Zeman declared himself ready for a television duel with his challenger drahos: "i still feel young, full of strength and full of energy."He thanked his wife, populist prime minister andrej babis and singer karel gott for their support in the election campaign.

"With the second round, everything starts from scratch," zeman said, calling on his supporters to participate in the runoff election on 26. And 27. January on. Polls predict an even race. Zeman had positioned himself as an opponent of immigration and fighter for the little people. The political veteran maintains good contacts with moscow and beijing.

Drahos wants to reorient nato and eu member state more strongly toward the west. He said on television that he wanted to address all voters, including those of his opponents, before the second round and improve the political culture: "I think first and then I speak." According to a poll by broadcaster CT, voters praised zeman for his strong personality and assertiveness, and drahos for his honesty and education.

The turnout of nearly 8.4 million eligible voters was 61.9 percent, similar to the first direct election of the head of state five years ago. The czech president represents the country abroad, appoints constitutional judges and plays a role in forming the government.

Apart from one incident, the first round of voting went off without a hitch: an activist from the ukrainian women’s group femen rushed toward the incumbent president, bare-chested and shouting "zeman – putin’s bitch" as he tried to cast his vote. A bodyguard overpowered the young woman. Zeman met with kremlin leader vladimir putin in the black sea resort of sochi in november and advocates an end to EU sanctions against russia.

The outcome of the run-off election could also determine the future fate of the government in the czech republic. Zeman had appointed populist andrej babis as prime minister despite accusations of fraud and is trimming his minority cabinet. In turn, the ANO party leader and multibillionaire called for zeman’s election even before the second round: "of course, i have no reason to change my mind."He advised zeman, however, to clearly declare that he "does not want to orient our country to the east".

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