Czech president Zeman wins second term

Javier Howell
January 28, 2018

Petr Vasicek, a Prague artist, told AFP that he chose the "educated and intelligent" Drahos over Zeman who is "pro-Russian and pro-Chinese, which I don't like at all". Zeman, who says he's the "president of the lower 10 million" Czechs, pledged to provide Babis a second chance to form a cabinet regardless of the election's outcome.

Prague sales clerk Daniela Simkova said she will "probably vote Zeman".

During the debate, Drahos called Zeman "a representative of the past political era.a symbol of division".

In a final television debate, aired on Thursday, the two candidates clashed over Russian policy with Mr Drahos calling the country a security threat for its views on North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. Zeman was leading from the beginning when the votes of the first constituencies were counted, while Drahos was cutting the lead gradually, but fared second in the end. The 73-year-old former prime minister was elected in 2013 during the Czech Republic's first presidential election decided by voters, not lawmakers. His opponent, former Academy of Sciences head Jiri Drahos had 45 percent.

But fellow voter Daniel Hajek said he would choose the "experienced Milos Zeman because he's opening the door to economic cooperation with countries like Russian Federation and China".

Europe's fifth biggest carmaker is dependent on auto exports, mainly to the eurozone, and its economy is expected to expand by 3.4 percent this year.

Zeman's victory comes amid a political crisis as billionaire populist Prime Minister Andrej Babis - dubbed the "Czech Trump" - is fighting police charges of European Union subsidy fraud that are hampering his ability to form a government.

Zeman has benefited from rising hostility to immigration, especially to people coming from Muslim states, although the country of 10.6mn received just 116 asylum applications between January and November a year ago and has only a tiny Muslim community.

Both Zeman and DrahoŇ° have rejected the EU's refugee quotas, but unlike Zeman, DrahoŇ° has said his country should differentiate between economic migrants and war refugees and follow the bloc's asylum procedures.

Billboards across the Czech Republic sought to appeal to voters with anti-migrant messages: "Stop immigrants and Drahos". This is our country. Most of the other candidates have endorsed Drahos in the runoff.

While most executive powers lie with the government, the president names the prime minister, appoints central bankers and commands the military.

Drahos has denied allegations of paedophilia and having been a communist police agent, suggesting the accusations were a smear campaign by Russian intelligence with links to Zeman.

Other reports by Insurance News

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