'Femen' Attacks Czech President With Breasts As He Votes

Presidential elections tests the power Euro scepticism and anti-immigrant sentiment in the Czech Republic

Czech elections: Here's all you need to know about the latest challenge to European unity

Czech President Milos Zeman has failed to win re-election during the first round of voting and will face a runoff election in two weeks against the former head of the country's Academy of Sciences.

With almost all the votes counted, Zeman was credited with 38.57 percent of the vote in the election, held Friday and Saturday, with Drahoš at 26.6 percent, well ahead of third-placed Pavel Fischer, a former ambassador to France, who garnered just over 10 percent.

With ballots from 99 percent of polling stations counted by the Czech Statistics Office on Saturday, Zeman led with 38.8 percent of the vote, followed by Drahos with 26.5 percent.

A former diplomat, Pavel Fischer, was a distant third with 10.2 percent. The three pledged their support to Drahos in the runoff.

After the official results were published, Zeman said at a press conference that he was ready for participation in debates with Drahos.

Ironically, experts say the move might boost Zeman's chances, judging by an outpouring of sympathy for him on social media.

"What I would be afraid of is infiltration by jihadists, and thus a higher number of terrorist attacks in European countries or cities", he said on Thursday night in his weekly interview show, Week with the President, on TV Barrandov. He called on all those "who want a change" to cast ballots.

"Drahos has made it very clear that a prosecuted man should not be prime minister", Pehe said.

Tapped by Zeman for prime minister in December, Babis was forced to form a minority government which appears set to lose a parliamentary confidence vote on January 16. The 73-year-old is also seen as receptive to authoritarian regimes, while becoming one of Russia's most dependable allies in Europe.

While the Czech Republic is the EU's richest post-communist member by economic output per capita - it also has the bloc's lowest unemployment and one of its fastest growth rates - Zeman has tapped into anti-migrant rhetoric resembling that of anti-establishment forces that scored gains in European elections past year. Zeman, a former prime minister, was elected in 2013 during the country's first direct presidential vote. The president also selects Constitutional Court judges with the approval of Parliament's upper house.

A total of nine candidates are running for the presidency. But in recent years has used every opportunity to attack the European Union, and has proposed a referendum on the country's membership in the bloc after Britain chose to leave.

Zeman has forged close ties with Russian President Vladimir Putin and his speeches have become known for their nationalist and anti-immigrant rhetoric similar to that heard among the nationalist governments in Poland and Hungary, all of whom oppose mandatory refugee quotas being pushed by Brussels.

Mr Zeman has become a vocal critic of the Euro bloc, railing against immigration, stoking the flames of Islamaphobia and encouraging closer ties with Russian Federation and China.

Drahos is a political newcomer who is not affiliated with a political party and has said he wants the values of "truth, reason and decency" to win.

Latest News