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Former PM Wins Czech Presidency

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Former prime minister Milos Zeman has won the Czech Republic's first direct presidential election.

The left-leaning former prime minister captured 55-percent of the vote in a run-off against conservative Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg.

The French News Agency says Schwarzenberg conceded defeat Saturday.

Zeman will replace President Vaclav Klaus, whose term ends in March.

The voting on Friday and Saturday marked the first time a Czech president was elected by popular vote since Czechoslovakia split into Slovakia and the Czech Republic in 1993. The president had previously been chosen by parliament.

Analysts say Zeman's campaign appealed to lower-income and older voters in regions of the country that have suffered in the country's economic downturn.

The Czech presidency is a mostly ceremonial role, but the president does yield political influence at a time when the Czech Republic is struggling to overcome economic decline.

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