Zeman Wins Czech Republic Election

Prague Morning

Prague Morning

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Miloš Zeman won a second five-year term Saturday after beating a political newcomer viewed as more Western-oriented in a runoff vote.

With ballots from almost 99 percent of polling stations counted, the Czech Statistics Office said President Miloš Zeman had received 51.6 percent of the vote during the two-day runoff election.

His opponent, former Czech Academy of Sciences head Jiří Drahoš, had 48.4 percent.

The result is likely to be viewed as bad news in Brussels, since Zeman has been in almost constant disagreement with the EU, notably regarding the migrant quotas and sanctions against Russia.

Zeman, 73, a veteran of Czech politics and former left-wing prime minister, won his first term in 2013 during the Czech Republic's first presidential election decided by voters, not lawmakers. Since then, he has divided the nation with his pro-Russia stance, support for closer ties with China, and strong anti-migrant and anti-Muslim rhetoric.

However, Drahoš was most damaged by being portrayed as a proponent of mass immigration, particularly through a broad billboard campaign carrying the message “Stop immigrants and Drahoš! This country is ours.” Around three-quarters of Czechs are opposed to accepting migrants from Muslim-majority countries.

Drahoš has repeatedly said that he was against the EU-mandated quota program but that he was in favor of accepting a limited number of migrants.

“We will analyze the campaign, discuss what mistakes we made and what we should do better,” Drahoš said. “We will continue.”

Author: red

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