Czech election: Milos Zeman leads in first round

Czech President Milos Zeman arrives to cast a vote during the presidential election at a polling station in Prague, January 12, 2018Image copyright

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Milos Zeman remains popular in rural areas

Czech President Milos Zeman has taken an early lead as votes are counted in the presidential election.

With 20% of results in, he had 44% with nearest rival Jiri Drahos on 23%.

However, the BBC’s Rob Cameron in Prague says there are indications that the election will go to a second round later this month.

Mr Zeman, 73, is seeking a second five-year term but has stoked controversy with his outspoken views and pro-Russian stance.

Turnout in the first round, which took place over two days, was about 60%, election officials said.

If a second round is confirmed, it is expected to be held on 26-27 January.

Mr Zeman is popular in rural areas, where his forthright views on immigrants and political correctness strike a chord, our correspondent says.

However, urban voters are more likely to agree with his pro-European challengers, who say he has poisoned the political atmosphere and unsettled allies.

The first round of voting passed uneventfully apart from a semi-naked protester who tried to disrupt Mr Zeman casting his vote in Prague on Friday.

The topless woman from the feminist group Femen accused him of being in the pocket of Russian President Vladimir Putin. She was bundled away and Mr Zeman then cast his ballot, but was visibly shaken by the incident.

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