Czech Election: Zeman Leads Schwarzenberg 57% to 43% - Partial Results

January 26, 2013, Saturday // 04:21
Bulgaria: Czech Election: Zeman Leads Schwarzenberg 57% to 43% - Partial Results
The former prime minister gained 24.2% in the first round, with Schwarzenberg winning 23.4%. Photo by Radio Prague

Former PM Milos Zeman is leading the Czech Republic's presidential election, with 60% of votes counted.

He was ahead of Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg by 57% to 43% in the second-round poll.

The election is the first time the presidency has been decided by direct popular vote.

Before polls closed at 13:00 GMT, people braved freezing conditions to vote in what was being seen as a nail-bitingly close poll.

The former prime minister gained 24.2% in the first round, with Schwarzenberg winning 23.4%.

"It'll be very tight," Schwarzenberg said after casting his ballot in the small village of Sykorice, south-west of Prague.

"I'm not nervous, far from it, I'm calm, we'll see," he added.

Zeman said he had said all he wanted to say.

"Now it's the turn of citizens," he added.

Correspondents in Prague have stressed that Czechs had to choose between two very different candidates - Zeman, the acerbic former Social Democrat prime minister, and Karel Schwarzenberg, the elderly, aristocratic foreign minister.

Zeman is a hard-drinking, chain-smoking politician, known for his witty put-downs of his political opponents while Schwarzenberg is a titled prince, 75 years old but wildly popularly amongst young, urban voters, BBC correspondent said.

In the early 1990s, Schwarzenberg worked as chancellor to the President Vaclav Havel, the leader of the Velvet Revolution that brought down Communist rule in 1989.

The new president will represent the Czech Republic abroad and appoint candidates to the constitutional court and the central bank, but does not carry much day-to-day power.


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