Czechs vote as liberals challenge populist Eurosceptic president

Erika Holt
January 12, 2018

Polls suggest Mr Zeman will beat eight other candidates in voting on Friday and Saturday but is unlikely to take more than 50 per cent, setting the scene for a run-off in a fortnight that Mr Drahos could win by uniting the anti-Zeman vote.

Protest group Femen said the woman was one of its Ukrainian members, Angelina Diash, and compared Mr Zeman to other allegedly pro-Kremlin "political prostitutes" like U.S. president Donald Trump and French far-right leader Marie Le Pen.

Also in the presidential race are Michal Horacek, a former songwriter and businessman, Pavel Fischer, a former diplomat, and Mirek Topolanek, who served as prime minister from 2006 to 2009.

Friday's vote was hit by a protest by Femen activists. His guards intervened and led the shaken president away.

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Zeman has courted controversy by voicing antimigrant views, denigrating Muslims, and warming up to Russian President Vladimir Putin at a time when many in Europe fear that Moscow is meddling in Western elections and affairs.

The 73-year-old ex-communist later told reporters he felt "honored to be attacked by a member of the Femen movement, that has also attacked the pope".

He was one of the few European leaders to endorse Donald Trump's bid for the White House.

While he was once considered to be in favor of the European Union (EU) - even flying the European flag at Prague Castle a month after his election - Zeman has since become one of the EU's most vocal critics.

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