Prague: The Czech Republic’s pro-Russia president won a second five-year term today after beating a political newcomer viewed as more Western-oriented in a runoff vote.
With ballots from almost 99 per cent of polling stations counted, the Czech Statistics Office said President Milos Zeman had received 51.6 per cent of the vote during the two- day runoff election. His opponent, former Czech Academy of Sciences head Jiri Drahos, had 48.4 per cent.
Drahos conceded defeat and congratulated Zeman this afternoon. The career scientist and chemistry professor said he planned to stay in politics, but did not provide details.
“It’s not over,” Drahos said. 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.
Zeman was one of the few European leaders to endorse Donald Trump’s bid for the White House. He also has proposed a referendum on the Czech Republic’s membership in the European Union like the one held in Britain.
Drahos, 68, who led the Academy of Sciences from 2009 until last year campaigned on maintaining the country’s ties to the EU and Nato. He ran unaffiliated with a political party.