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Czech vote: Milos Zeman to face Jiri Drahos in run-off

Czech vote: Milos Zeman to face Jiri Drahos in run-off
From Al Jazeera - January 13, 2018

Prague, Czech Republic -Incumbent Milos Zeman has won the first round of the Czech presidential election but faces a run-off after failingto gain the outright majority needed to win outright.

With over 99 percent of ballots counted, Zeman led the pack of nine candidates with 38.65 percent of the votes, theCzechStatistical Office said on Saturday.

Jiri Drahos, the former head of the country's Academy of Sciences,was the clear runner-up with 26.56 percent.

The populist president and the chemist-turned-politician will now face each other in a two-day runoff election on January 26-27.

"We did it," Drahos wrote on social media.

"A duel with Milos Zeman in the second round will be tough. We do not know if he's going to meet me face-to-face and the defence of our mandate will be hard. We have to be ready."

'Unite our society'

While the role of the president is largely ceremonial, it is regarded as a key indicator of the country's political direction and a symbol of its values.

A right-wing, pro-Russia candidate, Zeman has come under fire by critics for his xenophobic views, while his anti-Islamic rhetoric is seen by many as stoking a deep divide in the Czech Republic.

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