Czech President Faces a Runoff After First Round of Voting

Advertisement

PRAGUE — President Milos Zeman of the Czech Republic failed to win re-election in the first round of a presidential vote on Saturday and will face a runoff in two weeks against the former president of the country’s Academy of Sciences.

Mr. Zeman and the runner-up in the first round, Jiri Drahos, advanced to a second round of voting because none of the nine candidates seeking the country’s largely ceremonial presidency received a majority of votes in the initial round, held on Friday and Saturday.

With almost all the ballots counted by the Czech Statistics Office, Mr. Zeman had 38.6 percent of the vote compared with 26.6 for Mr. Drahos.

Pavel Fischer, a former diplomat, was a distant third with 10.2 percent. Michal Horacek, a songwriter, finished fourth with 9.2 percent, ahead of Marek Hilser, a doctor, who had 8.8 percent. The three pledged their support to Mr. Drahos in the runoff.

Mr. Zeman congratulated Mr. Drahos and said he was ready to debate him before the runoff vote, which begins on Jan. 26. Mr. Zeman did not take part in any debates ahead of the first round of voting.

“Mr. Drahos said that he would like to meet me face to face,” the president said. “I am happy to oblige him.”

Election officials said voter turnout was 61.9 percent in the preliminary election. Mr. Drahos called on all those “who want a change” to cast ballots in the runoff.

“The final is still ahead of us, and that’s what matters,” Mr. Drahos said.

Mr. Zeman, 73, a former prime minister, was elected in 2013 during the country’s first direct presidential vote.

Vaclav Havel and Vaclav Klaus, the previous two presidents of the country, were elected by Parliament.

Under the Czech Constitution, the president picks the prime minister after a general election, one of the office’s key responsibilities.

The president also appoints members of the Central Bank board and selects Constitutional Court judges with the approval of Parliament’s upper house.

Otherwise, the president has little executive power since the country is run by a government chosen and led by the prime minister.

Mr. Zeman was considered a more pro-European leader than his euroskeptic predecessor, Mr. Klaus, but in recent years he has used every opportunity to attack the European Union. He has proposed a referendum on the country’s membership in the bloc after Britain decided to leave.

He also has become known for strong anti-migrant rhetoric, which won him support from the populist right. He has divided the nation with his pro-Russian stance and his support for closer ties with China.

He was one of the few European leaders to endorse Donald J. Trump’s bid for the White House.

Mr. Drahos, 68, is seen as more Western-oriented and firmly supports the country’s membership in the European Union and NATO.

Advertisement

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

NYT > Europe

About

Leave a Reply

Scroll To Top