Zeman To Face Drahoš in Czech Presidential Run-Off

Prague Morning

Prague Morning

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Miloš Zeman easily beat eight other candidates in the first round of the Czech presidential election but faces a stiff test to win another five-year term against the runner-up, Jiří Drahoš.

Zeman was credited with 38.57 percent of the vote in the election, with Drahoš at 26.6 percent, well ahead of third-placed Pavel Fischer, a former ambassador to France, who garnered just over 10 percent. Turnout was nearly 62 percent.

As no candidate won an absolute majority, a run-off between Zeman and Drahoš will be held on January 26-27.

The outcome of that vote will have repercussions both domestically and internationally. Zeman has been a stubborn thorn in the side of the EU, repeatedly speaking out against its directive on migrant quotas and calling for an end to sanctions against Russia.

For his part, Drahoš said Saturday that he considered foreign policy crucial and highlighted “the solid anchoring of the Czech Republic in Europe, our partnership with NATO and the importance of ties within the Euro-Atlantic space.”

On the domestic front, Drahoš has said he finds it “unacceptable” that a man facing criminal charges — a clear reference to newly elected Prime Minister Andrej Babiš — should be head of government. Zeman has staunchly defended Babiš, who has denied defrauding the EU of a subsidy of 2 million euros.

Author: red

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