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

Disappointing Report on China's Economy Shakes Markets

In London and New York shares lost 3 percent, while Paris and Germany dropped around 2.4 percent More

DRC Tries Mega-Farms to Feed Population

Park at Boukanga Lonzo currently has 5,000 hectares under cultivation, crops stretching as far as eye can see, and is start of ambitious large-scale agriculture plan More

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Areas are spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, source of livelihood for fishermen and herders who have called the marshes home for generations 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.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs