Milos Zeman Wins Czech Presidential Poll
Former PM Milos Zeman (pictured) won 55% of votes in the second-round poll, compared to Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg's 45%. Photo by HN
Former PM Milos Zeman has won the Czech Republic's presidential election - the first time the position has been decided by direct popular vote.
He won 55% of votes in the second-round poll, compared to Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg's 45%.
Czechs were electing the country's president in a direct popular vote for the first time, choosing a leader to replace euro-skeptic President Vaclav Klaus.
Klaus' second and final term in office ends March 7.
The new president will be sworn in the following day.
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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