Euroskeptic Zeman has poll edge as Czechs vote in runoff

Euroskeptic Zeman has poll edge as Czechs vote in runoff

In this context there will be determined the reelection of the current Head of State, Milos Zeman, or the start of in his position of his rival, the scholar Jiri Drahos. For this reason, several surveys indicate the possibility that the former director of the Academy of Sciences can defeat Zeman if he gets the support of the other candidates, losers in the previous round.

The Czech president, Miloš Zeman, has been elected to a second five-year term after winning a runoff vote.

Zeman backed Donald Trump for the U.S. presidency before Trump's election in 2016 a rare position among leaders in Europe.

The election is also said to be a referendum on Zeman, aged-73, the last prominent figure among active politicians from the country's transitional period in the 1990s.

About 10 percent of voters in the European Union and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation member state remained undecided but polls show they too are split down the middle. He ran unaffiliated with a political party.

Speaking to a jubilant crowd at his Prague campaign headquarters, Zeman vowed to give political ally Babis plenty of time to cobble together a government.

While Zeman represents poorer and rural voters with lower education, Drahos appeals to wealthier, well-educated urbanites.

Eurosceptic incumbent Miloš Zeman has beaten pro-Western academic Jirí Drahoš to win the Czech presidential election, according to the news agency CTK. Zeman immediately asked Babis to try again.

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The constitution allows the president to name the prime minister and government, central bank board members, judges and university professors, and to sign bills passed by parliament into laws. He has been president since 2013 and has also previously served as his country's prime minister. Still, Mr Zeman has tapped anti-establishment sentiment, boosting populist politicians that challenged the EU's liberal, multi-cultural values. The Czech Republic has received only 12 migrants under the European Union quota system, but billboards across during the campaign read: "Stop immigrants and Drahos".

"It's an excellent result", Freedom and Direct Democracy chairman Tomio Okamura said of Zeman's re-election.

Zeman was first with 38.6 percent of the vote, followed by Drahos with 26.6 per cent.

Zeman has exploited widespread fear of migration among Czechs and worked to portray Drahos as someone who would welcome migrants.

Another Prague voter Lubos Horcic told AFP he was backing Drahos because "he will work to reconcile society and not divide it like Comrade Zeman", adding that Drahos was "moving towards Europe and the West and not towards the East".

Zeman is the country's third president - after Václav Havel and Václav Klaus - since Czechoslovakia was split in 1993.

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