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Leftist Ex PM Milos Zeman 'Wins Czech Presidency with 55%'

World | January 26, 2013, Saturday // 17:11| Views: 1224 | Comments: 0
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Bulgaria: Leftist Ex PM Milos Zeman 'Wins Czech Presidency with 55%' Milos Zeman (pictured) was ahead of Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg by 55.15% to 44.84% in the second-round poll, with 98% of the votes counted.

Left-leaning former Prime Minister Milos Zeman will almost certainly replace Vaclav Klaus for the largely ceremonial post of Czech president.

He was ahead of Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg by 55.15% to 44.84% in the second-round poll, with 98% of the votes counted.

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%.

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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