News / Europe

Leftist Wins First Round in Czech Presidential Poll

Presidential candidate Milos Zeman, who won the first round vote of presidential elections in the Czech Republic, speaks to the press in Prague, Jan. 12, 2013.
Presidential candidate Milos Zeman, who won the first round vote of presidential elections in the Czech Republic, speaks to the press in Prague, Jan. 12, 2013.
Stefan Bos
Official results show former leftist prime minister Milos Zeman has won the first round of the Czech Republic's first direct presidential vote since the breakup of Czechoslovakia in 1993.  Zeman, however, faces tough competition in a second round to replace the euro-skeptic Vaclav Klaus. 

The Czech Electoral Committee said Zeman received roughly a quarter of the ballots cast in the first round of the country's historic presidential poll.  This was the first time that a Czech president was elected by popular vote since Czechoslovakia split into Slovakia and the Czech Republic in 1993.  In the past, the president was chosen by the country's parliament.   

As his first round victory became clear, the 68-year-old Zeman thanked those who supported him. Zeman said he wanted to thank the voters and his team. “Without them,” he said, he “wouldn't be able to make it so far."

The former prime minister can expect a major challenge from 75-year-old pro-European Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg, who placed second in the first round with 23 percent of the vote.

The two men face each other in a run-off January 25 and January 26.

The results are a setback for former prime minister Jan Fischer.  The son of a Holocaust survivor wanted to become Europe's first directly elected Jewish president.

Another candidate, opera composer, painter and performing arts professor Vladimir Franz, also did not make it to the second round.  

Prime Minister Peter Necas voiced disappointment because another presidential hopeful of his ruling center right Civic Democratic Party party did not receive many votes.

The prime minister has come under fire for supporting a New Year's amnesty given by outgoing President Vaclav Klaus to some 7,000 prisoners.
 
"The amnesty issue hurt the election campaign" Necas said, adding that the "results are disappointing." But the prime minister denied he harmed the interests of the Czech Republic.  "Under the law and the traditions of the country," Necas said, he had to support the president's decision to release the prisoners.         
 
The person who becomes the new president is expected to establish closer ties with the European Union after replacing Klaus in March.

Though largely a ceremonial role, the president yields political influence at a time when the Czech Republic struggles to overcome economic decline and an unemployment rate of more than 9 percent.

You May Like

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the US are seeing gas prices dip below $3 a gallon More

Afghan Women's Soccer Team Building for the Future

A four-team female league was recently set up in Kabul; It will help identify players for the national team More

Video Koreas on Edge Amid Live-fire Drills

Pyongyang threatens nuclear test as joint US, S. Korean exercises show forces’ capabilities More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
New Skateboard Defies Gravityi
X
November 21, 2014 5:07 AM
A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Gay Evangelicals Argue That Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality

More than 30 U.S. states now recognize same-sex marriages, and an increasing number of mainline American churches are blessing them. But evangelical church members- which account for around 30 percent of the U.S. adult population - believe the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexuality. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender evangelicals are coming out. Backed by a prominent evangelical scholar, they argue that the traditional reading of the bible is wrong.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid