Czechs elect president; anti-migrant incumbent favorite

Czechs elect president; anti-migrant incumbent favorite

While the Czech Republic is the EU's richest post-communist member by economic output per capita - it also has the bloc's lowest unemployment and one of its fastest growth rates - Zeman has tapped into anti-migrant rhetoric resembling that of anti-establishment forces that scored gains in European elections past year.

Czechs go to the polls this weekend in the first round of a presidential election.

He has also lashed out against the EU's efforts to integrate refugees from the Middle East and Africa, once saying that Muslim migrants will impose Sharia Law, chop off thieves' hands and stone adulterous women in Europe. Zeman has sharply criticised immigration from Muslim countries and linked it to security threats.

As Rob Cameron, a BBC correspondent in Prague, points out, these new elections will not only be a referendum on Zeman, but also on the direction the Czech Republic will follow.

Czech presidential candidate Jiri Drahos is seen at his election headquarters in Prague after the first round of voting in the presidential election on January 13, 2018.

Among his closest advisers is the founder of the Czech subsidiary of the Russian oil giant Lukoil. He adds that "today the Czech Republic is divided as never before by President Zeman and where he places his loyalties".

He told a news conference: "I see him as a strong personality which is polarising society, but mainly as someone who does not steal, who has results, who keeps his word. and unlike other politicians, he does not live from politics, he lives for politics". "I want the castle to be a showcase, a bright light of transparency for this country".

The former president of the Academy of Sciences, Jiri Drahos, and popular song writer Michal Horacek are considered major challengers.

"The final is still ahead of us, and that's what matters", Drahos said.

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According to Czech police, the woman was a Ukrainian, who hid among journalists who were waiting for Zeman at the polling station.

His "astute comments", however, have caused controversy and "shame".

On these two last points - perhaps here more than anywhere else - Milos Zeman divides the nation.

"Look at the inscription", Zeman said smiling about the toy gun he had received during a visit to the west of the country.

In November 2015, he appeared on stage alongside a raggle-taggle group of Islamophobes and ultra-nationalists. It was an unprecedented appearance for a man who calls himself a leftist. He called on all those "who want a change" to cast ballots.

"I think President Zeman doesn't represent the country as well as he should", she told the.

There has also been talk of the health problems of the president, who has type 2 diabetes whose sequels have caused him difficulties walking during public presentations and is supported by a cane.

While he has won support among many Czechs by criticizing intellectual elites, they say he's sown doubt over whether the country of 10.6 million people should remain in the world's largest trading bloc. "They are targeting liberal voters from the cities".

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