Zeman leads Czech presidential vote, partial results show

Adjust Comment Print

He is a great admirer of Donald Trump and one of the fiercest defenders of Vladimir Putin.

Czech President Milos Zeman failed to win re-election during the first round of voting on Saturday and will face a runoff election in two weeks against the former head of the country's Academy of Sciences.

Initial results indicating which two candidates are likely to contest the expected run-off are expected later Saturday.

Its platform has been a fierce anti-immigration discourse and an open contempt for minorities and refugees.

"Mind you", he added, "I can think of some women for whom that would be an improvement".

As he voted in Prague on Friday, Zeman was targeted by a bare-breasted anti-Kremlin protester who called him "Putin's slut", referring to Russia's president.

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.

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.

His coterie of close advisers include the founder of a Czech subsidiary of Russian oil giant Lukoil.

"Not everyone has seen these relationships beneficial to the country", says Cameron. Like Slovakia and Hungary, the Czechs have clashed with the European Commission over their refusal to accept migrants under quotas set by a vote by EU leaders.

"I want the castle to be like a shop window, a bright light of transparency for this country".

"He has damaged our standing internationally, he has alienated key economic and security partners, he has cheapened the public discourse and increasingly he is indulging extremists".

These are the last two points, says the BBC correspondent, those that most divide the nation.

Zeman's politics have been controversial.

His "astute comments", however, have caused controversy and "shame".

Zeman says he is ready "to meet (Drahos') request" to face each other.

In November 2015, he appeared on stage alongside a raggle-taggle group of Islamophobes and ultra-nationalists. It was an unprecedented appearance for a man who calls himself a leftist. Drahos called on all those "who want a change" to cast ballots in the runoff. "Sometimes he behaves like he's not our president, and I'm embarrassed".

There has also been talk of the health problems of the president, who has type 2 diabetes whose sequels have caused him difficulties walking during public presentations and is supported by a cane.

Zeman and Jiri Drahos advanced to the second round of the presidential election because none of the nine candidates seeking the largely ceremonial post received a majority of first-round votes. "They are targeting liberal voters from the cities".

If opinion polls are correct, voters are willing to re-elect him.

But things could change dramatically if Drahos wins.