Ex Czech PM Zeman Ahead of FM Schwarzenberg 59% to 41% - First Results

World | January 26, 2013, Saturday // 16:04| Views: 1102 | Comments: 0
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Bulgaria: Ex Czech PM Zeman Ahead of FM Schwarzenberg 59% to 41% - First Results Former Czech Prime Minister Milos Zeman (L) was leading Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg (R) in the second round, with 30% of votes counted. Photo by Euronews

Votes are being counted in the Czech Republic's presidential election, the first time the role has been decided by direct popular vote.

Former Czech Prime Minister Milos Zeman was leading Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg in the second round, with 30% of votes counted.

Before polls closed at 13:00 GMT, people braved freezing conditions to vote in the nail-bitingly close poll.

Zeman was ahead by 59% to 41%, with a third of votes counted.

The former prime minister gained 24.2% in the first round, with Mr 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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Tags: Czech Republic, Milos Zeman, Karel Schwarzenberg
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