Czech Presidential Run-off Goes Down To The Wire

Czech Presidential Run-off Goes Down To The Wire

In this context there will be determined the reelection of the current Head of State, Milos Zeman, or the start of in his position of his rival, the scholar Jiri Drahos.

Around 8.4 million Czechs were eligible to vote in the runoff, which was mandated after no candidate won a majority in the January 12-13 first round.

Polling stations reopened at 0700 GMT Saturday and were set to close at 1300 GMT, with partial results expected to begin rolling in shortly after.

Zeman's victory is good news for Babis, who was a runaway victor in parliamentary elections in October with pledges to fight political corruption and run the state better.

In a final television debate, aired on Thursday, the two candidates clashed over Russian policy with Mr Drahos calling the country a security threat for its views on North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. The 73-year-old former prime minister was elected in 2013 during the republic's first presidential election to be decided by voters, not politicians. "Drahos, on the other hand, came across as boring, shy and defensive".

Both Zeman and Drahoš have rejected the EU's refugee quotas, but unlike Zeman, Drahoš has said his country should differentiate between economic migrants and war refugees and follow the bloc's asylum procedures.

Zeman is promoting cooperation with China and Russian Federation, and opposes accepting refugees from Islamic countries.

Blue Moon in Qatar skies next Wednesday
Global map showing areas of the world that will experience (weather permitting) the January 31, 2018 "super blue blood moon". A supermoon occurs when a full moon coincides with its closest approach during orbit to Earth, known as a perigee.

Zeman has benefited from rising hostility to immigration, especially to people coming from Muslim states, although the country of 10.6mn received just 116 asylum applications between January and November past year and has only a tiny Muslim community.

Billboards across the country sought to appeal to voters with anti-migrant messages: "Stop immigrants and Drahos".

"It's important for us, for jobs; our country is at the heart of Europe - we can't go in just one direction", he told AFP in Prague. This is our country.

Immigration was a key issue, more than two years after the European Union first faced a major influx of refugees nearly none of whom ever appeared in the Czech Republic.

Zeman has repeatedly called on the European Union to lift its sanctions on Russian Federation over its 2014 takeover of Crimea from Ukraine. Most of the other candidates have endorsed Drahos in the runoff. This earned him scorn in pro-Zeman media and on social networks.

But police charges that Babis illegally obtained subsidies as a businessman a decade ago which he denies have left his party without ruling partners. He can appoint the prime minister and government, central bank board members, judges and university professors, and sign bills passed by parliament into laws.

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