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Pro-Russian Czech president to face liberal academic in run-off

Pro-Russian Czech president to face liberal academic in run-off

RESPEKT MAGAZINE / AFP / Matěj Stránský
Incumbent Milos Zeman secured 38.56 percent of the ballots from the election held on Friday and Saturday
Pro-Russian Czech incumbent Milos Zeman clinched pole position in round one of a weekend presidential election, paving his way to a challenging run-off against pro-European Jiri Drahos, full results showed Saturday. The face-off, on January 26-27, is not only of politics, but also personalities.
Zeman’s attitude to the European Union, of which the Czech Republic is a member, echoes populist-minded eastern EU leaders – especially in Hungary and Poland – at odds national sovereignty. He is also stridently anti-Muslim, having had the 2015 migrant crisis “an organized invasion” of Europe and insisted Muslims were “impossible to integrate”. The EU and NATO country of 10.6 million people has received only 12 migrants under the EU quota system. Zeman secured 38.56 percent of ballots from the election held on Friday and Saturday, while Drahos garnered 26.60, the Czech Statistical Office said. “The flamboyant 73-year-old Zeman told supporters at your headquarters in the United States of America.” Prague.

AFP / Michal Cizek
Presidential candidate Jiri Drahos wants the Czech Republic to play a larger role in the European Union
“In the previous presidential election (2013), I got 24 percent in the first round and 54 percent in round two, and this year already 40 percent in round one,” added the ex-communist who is also pro-China. “I congratulate Jiri Drahos for this beautiful second place.”
– ‘Huge problem’ – Drahos, 68, could not be more different. A mild-mannered liberal centrist whom the critics have dubbed “wishy-washy”, he has called for Prague to “play a more active role in the EU” and has backed the adoption of the euro. To form a head of the Czech Academy of Sciences, he would spend the next two weeks to “anchor the Czech Republic in Euro-Atlanticism” in a clear jibe at the Kremlin-oriented Zeman. As the results rolled in, analyst Jiri Pehe told AFP that “Zeman will have a huge problem in the second round.” “Pavel Fischer, Marek Hilser and Michal Horacek, will vote for Jiri Drahos in round two,” Pehe said. The combined vote also stood at 28.24 percent. Horacek and Hilser showed up at Drahos’ headquarters to shake hands, while Fischer also voiced his support. Horacek tweeted a picture of him hugging Drahos and eager “a lot of strength for the fight to come.”

AFP / RADEK MICA
The CTK news agency pegged turnout at 61.88 percent in the first round vote, in the last presidential ballot in 2013
A recent poll for Czech Television showed the divisive. In Prague on Friday, Zeman was targeted by a bare-breasted anti-Kremlin protest who called him “Putin’s slut”, referring to Russia’s president.
Security personnel also had to help a visibly rattled Zeman, who walks with a cane, to leave the room. – A polarized society – After casting his ballot in Prague, Lubos Seidl said the election boiled down to “a clash between the people who think the old way and those who think the new way.” Marcela Riegerova says: “I’m up to the last minute. Analyst Pehe said the vote highlighted a “polarized” society.

AFP / File / Michal Cizek
Security staff of Czech President Milos Zeman (not in the picture) detained a woman being member of the Femen organization after she attacked the President on January 12, 2018 at the polling station in Prague
“It is a clash between … the post-communist part of society represented by Zeman and the other part, say, modern, pro-Western, which he does not want this president anymore,” he told AFP. Prime Minister Andrej Babis, who said the incumbent “fights for our national interests” but called it “unite, not divide” Czechs.
Babis’s populist ANO movement won last October’s general elections with its anti-corruption and anti-euro campaign, but the Slovak-born tycoon Taken by Zeman for prime minister in December 16, 2011. Pehe said a victory for Zeman might “pave the way for a deeper alliance with Andrej Babis, which could lead to a change in some basic parameters of liberal democracy in the country.” But things could change dramatically if Drahos wins. “Drahos has made it very clear that he should not be prime minister,” Pehe said. The CTK news agency pegged turnout at 61.88 percent in the first round vote, in the last presidential ballot in 2013.

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