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1ST LEAD Polls close in Czech presidential elections, win favoured for Zeman By Michael Heitmann, dpa

Europe
13.01.2018
By our dpa-correspondent and Europe Online    auf Facebook posten  Auf Twitter posten  
Prague (dpa) - Polls closed on Saturday in the Czech Republic‘s two-day presidential election, with the incumbent Milos Zeman tipped to win another five-year term.

However, pollsters have forecast that the 73-year-old will not win more than 50 per cent of the vote needed for an outright victory and that a run-off vote - also held over two days - will be held in two weeks.

Jiri Drahos, a chemistry professor and two-time president of the Czech Academy of Sciences, is forecast to come in second in the eight-candidate race and advance to the run-off.

Zeman based his campaign on opposition to immigration and criticism of the European Union. Many Czechs consider him to be pro-Russian.

A political newcomer, Drahos, 68, has said that he wants to reverse the polarization of Czech society.

It was only the second time that Czechs have directly elected their head of state. Previously, the president, with a largely ceremonial role, was appointed by parliament.

About 8.4 million people were eligible to vote. Preliminary results were expected later Saturday.

 

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