Zeman, Drahos Set for Runoff Vote in Czech Presidential Poll

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

Zeman didn't take part in any public debates ahead of the first round vote he won on Saturday but without the majority he would have needed to avoid a runoff.

The former Czech ambassador to France, Pavel Fischer, has been in third place with 10.21%, followed closely by businessman and author of successful songs, Michal Horacek, with 9.16%, and Doctor Marek Hilser, with 8.82%. With this result, Zeman and Drahos will face a second and definitive electoral round on January 26th and 27th.

Zeman had 40 percent, with 90 percent of the vote counted.

It is Milos Zeman, the president of the Czech Republic whose voters go to the polls this weekend in the first round of presidential elections that are considered as a referendum on the 73-year-old president. He called on all those "who want a change" to cast ballots.

The participation was 61%, nearly same as five years ago, when se elections were held for first time by direct suffrage, since before 2013 president was elected by 200 deputies and 81 senators in a joint session. Among other powers, the president has the right to name central bank board members and is the commander-in-chief of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation member's military.

Drahos, 68, is seen as more western-oriented and pro-EU.

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

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) shakes hands with Czech President Milos Zeman at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem on October 7, 2013.

He also has become known for strong anti-migrant rhetoric that won him support from the populist right.

Zeman has been accused of being too close to Russian President Vladimir Putin and has called Russia's annexation of the Crimean peninsula an 'accomplished fact.' He has also been very critical in the EU's enablement of massive Islamic immigration.

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.

On 3 April 2013, a month after his election, Mr Zeman watched as the blue and yellow European Union flag was raised over Prague Castle, seat of the Czech president - something his predecessor Vaclav Klaus had staunchly refused to do.

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.

Since the split of Czechoslovakia 25 years ago, the presidency has become a somewhat ceremonial position with a limited but not insignificant scope of responsibilities that includes appointing high-ranking government positions and meeting foreign heads of state.

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