Polling Stations Reopen Amid Cyberattack Fears

A two-day Czech presidential election began on Friday, with one contender believing the vote has already been affected by a cyberattack.

Opinion polls suggest a tight race between billionaire and populist ex-prime minister Andrej Babis, former army general Petr Pavel and economics professor Danuse Nerudova. Pavel said his campaign websites were difficult to access.

“Russian hackers apparently don’t want voters to access my websites on this key day,” the 61-year-old former NATO general complained on Twitter.

The polling stations opened at 2 p.m. and close at the same time on Saturday for 8.3 million eligible voters.

If none of the eight candidates receive an absolute majority, as is expected, a run-off second round follows in two weeks.

The Czech president’s powers include appointing constitutional judges and having the right to send laws back to parliament once.

In a final televised debate on Thursday, the favorites exchanged blows. Babis, prime minister between 2017 and 2021, tried to portray Pavel and Nerudova as politically inexperienced.

He was meanwhile accused of presiding over “chaos” during the coronavirus crisis of 2020 and 2021.

The campaign was otherwise dominated by personality but issues such as high inflation and the Ukraine war were also top themes.

President Milos Zeman’s mandate ends at the beginning of March. The 78-year-old was not allowed to run again after two terms.

Turnout in the first round during the last presidential elections in 2018 was 62 percent.

 

 

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