Zeman wins Czech presidential first round vote with 90 percent counted

14 Enero, 2018, 02:02 | Author: Kelly Blake
  • Czech Republic's Prime Minister Andrej Babis addresses lawmakers during a Parliament session in Prague Czech Republic Wednesday Jan. 10 2018. Czech Republic's Parliament gathered for a confidence vote for a newly appointed government led by Babis. Pho

The vote, likely to end in a run-off in two weeks, is seen as a referendum on 73-year-old Zeman, in office since 2013, who has harshly criticized migration from Muslim countries and is keen to boost ties with Russian Federation and China.

Some local polls see Zeman narrowly beat Drahos in a runoff, while Czech Television released a poll on Monday that has Drahos edging the president with 48.5 percent of the vote to Zeman's 44 percent.

If Zeman fails to win 50 percent of the vote required for an outright victory in this weekend's election - which is expected - then two candidates will compete in a runoff scheduled for later this month.

Zeman has been willing to cooperate with Prime Minister Andrej Babis, whose political party, action of dissatisfied citizens (anus), won October legislative elections and ruled in a minority. That's true about Jiri Drahos, Michal Horacek and Pavel Fischer. With this result, Zeman and Drahos will face a second and definitive electoral round on January 26th and 27th.

Klara, a young woman who will vote for the first time this weekend, wants to see a change of direction in her country.

Czech presidents have limited executive powers but Zeman, first elected in 2013, and his predecessors have had a strong influence on public debate.

Some right-wing opposition politicians said Zeman and Babis made a pact - Zeman helping Babis become prime minister and Babis helping Zeman defend the presidential post in exchange. The president also selects Constitutional Court judges with the approval of Parliament's upper house.

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Mr. Drahos, 68, is seen as more Western-oriented and firmly supports the country's membership in the European Union and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.

And now he is emerging victorious in the first round of the elections on Friday and Saturday.

A total of nine candidates are running for the presidency.

The Czech Statistics Office says President Milos Zeman had 43.8 percent of the vote with ballots from over 15 percent of polling stations counted on Saturday.

On 3 April 2013, a month after his election, Mr Zeman watched as the blue and yellow European Union flag was raised over Prague Castle, seat of the Czech president - something his predecessor Vaclav Klaus had staunchly refused to do. He has proposed a referendum on the country's membership in the bloc after Britain chose to leave. He has divided the nation with his pro-Russian stance and his support for closer ties with China.

The Czech president has few powers, but in case of Zeman he has stood out as a political leader.

Drahos is a political newcomer who is not affiliated with a political party and has said he wants the values of "truth, reason and decency" to win. A professor of chemistry, he headed the academy from 2009 until previous year.

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