Former Social Democrat Prime Minister Milos Zeman narrowly held off a strong challenge from independent centrist Jiri Drahos to retain the Czech Republic’s Presidency in today’s run-off round.
Zeman won his second term by just under three percentage points and by only 152,000 votes out of nearly 5.57 million cast – some 51.4 per cent to 48.6 per cent.
His margin of victory was smaller than his first Presidential win five years ago, when he beat Karel Schwarzenberg of the centre-right TOP 09 party by 54.8 to 45.2 per cent in the run-off.
Of five opinion polls carried out between the two rounds of voting, three had predicted a narrow victory for Drahos. The remaining two – and those with the latest-dated fieldwork – had anticipated a win for Zeman. The highly polarised and sometimes bitter Presidential contest has attracted much comment internationally around the perceived clash of values between the pro-western, more liberal Drahos and immigration hardliner Zeman, who has taken up positions seen as more favourable towards Russia.
Turnout, at 66.6 per cent, was up by 7.5 points on the comparable second round of voting in the 2013 election. It was also markedly better than in the first round of 2018 voting on 12-13 January.
CZECH PRESIDENCY 26-27 January 2018
2nd round, total votes and per cent
Milos Zeman (SPO) 2,853,390 votes or 51.36%
Jiri Drahos (Ind) 2,701,206 or 48.63%
Eligible voters: 8,363,002
Valid votes: 5,554,596
Turnout: 66.60% (2013: 59.11%)
Source: Czech Statistical Office. Full official results here.
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