Czech presidential election runoff goes down to the wire

Czech presidential election runoff goes down to the wire

Incumbent Milos Zeman is facing the fight of his presidency as the second round of voting gets underway in the Czech Republic today. In an election that has divided the country, Zeman won the largest share of votes in round one, taking 38.6%. His second-round competitor, former Academy of Science President Jiri Drahos, trailed with

CZECH-PRESIDENT-VOTE-ZEMAN

Michael/Cizek/AFP/Getty

Incumbent Milos Zeman is facing the fight of his presidency as the second round of voting gets underway in the Czech Republic today.

In an election that has divided the country, Zeman won the largest share of votes in round one, taking 38.6%. His second-round competitor, former Academy of Science President Jiri Drahos, trailed with 26.6%. Heading into today’s ballot, Drahos has the support of his round one competitors—potentially giving him an additional 32.6%.

Brussels will be waiting with bated breath. A Zeman victory will embolden the populist government to continue dodging its EU-mandated obligations—chiefly, the intake of migrants and adoption of the Euro. In contrast, it’s hoped that Drahos’ liberal pro-western approach will bring the Republic back to the Union and away from Russia and China.

Immigration will be the key battleground. Zeman has set himself up as an anti-immigrant champion defending against an ‘Islamic dictatorship’. While Drahos has criticised the EU mandated quotas, his willingness to accept refugees has seen him painted as weak on undocumented migration and threatens to tip the balance in today’s tightly contested race.

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