The outgoing Czech president, Václav Klaus, has welcomed the election of Miloš Zeman as his successor. In a reference to the motto of the late president Václav Havel, Mr Klaus told Czech Radio that in Mr Zeman’s election, “truth and love have finally prevailed over lies and hatred”. Mr Klaus, who is on a working visit to Chile, said he was glad that Czechs did not get confused by an incredible media campaign ahead of the vote, adding that result of the election was a huge satisfaction for all those who “mean well” for the country.
Miloš Zeman has been elected president of the Czech Republic. The former Social Democrat prime minister received 54.8 percent of the vote in the second round of the direct presidential elections on Saturday while his rival for the post, Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg, obtained 45.2 percent. Miloš Zeman won in all Czech regions with the exception of Prague. The turnout in the runoff reached over 59 percent, less than in the first round two weeks ago. Miloš Zeman will be inaugurated on March 8, the day after Václav Klaus’s second term expires.
Most Czech expats and tourists backed Karel Schwarzenberg in the second round of the direct presidential election. Mr Schwarzenberg received nearly 85 percent of the expat vote while Miloš Zeman got just over 15 percent. Polling stations at Czech embassies and consulates reported a higher turnout compared to the election’s first round held two weeks ago.
With nearly all votes counted, Karel Schwarzenberg conceded defeat in the second round of voting for the Czech president, and congratulated rival Miloš Zeman on winning the popular vote. Mr Schwarzenberg said, however, that the election was decided by lies and dirty tricks in the campaign. He also announced he would continue to serve as foreign minister in the current centre-right government, would run for re-election as the head of the TOP 09 party.
Czech Prime Minister Petr Nečas on Saturday congratulated Miloš Zeman on his victory in the first direct Czech presidential election. Since the fall of communism, Mr Nečas said, Czech politics had generated three significant figures – Václav Havel, Václav Klaus and Miloš Zeman – and that it was “natural” that Mr Zeman had been elected to succeed the former two. The prime minister also expressed hope that the atmosphere in the society would calm down in the coming days after the divisive campaigning ahead of the presidential vote.
Speaking at an improvised news conference at his headquarters in Prague, president-elect Miloš Zeman said his victory was “convincing”, and promised to be the voice of all Czechs, not just those who backed him in the election. After thanking his campaign team, Mr Zeman said he would outline a detailed programme of his presidency in an address to the Czech Parliament. The newly elected president reiterated that he would visit Slovakia on his first trip abroad, and asked his 18-year-old daughter Kateřina to informally play the role of the “first miss” as his wife wished to stay out of the public arena.
A man armed with a gun attempted to rob a gas station near Šumperk, in the north of the country, on Thursday night, the police said. The picked a pack of chewing gum and came to the counter. He then pulled a gun from his backpack and told the assistant he would shoot her if she did not hand him all the money. But when the assistant declined, he paid for the chewing gum and left the station without hurting anyone of stealing anything. The police have asked potential witnesses for information; the man faces up to ten years in prison.
The team of presidential candidate Miloš Zeman has approached the Interior Ministry over possible irregularities in the second round of the direct presidential election, the news agency ČTK reported. A member of the team said they were concerned that some voters could be copying their absentee ballots to be able to vote in different districts. The Interior Ministry therefore informed all election committees to pay extra attention to verifying voters’ identity, and also informed the police of the issue, a spokesman for the ministry said. More than 700,000 people have asked for absentee ballots for the second round of the presidential election, Czech TV reported.
Former Social Democrat MP Petr Wolf was declared wanted by the police on Friday after he failed to turn up to begin serving his prison term. Mr Wolf, who served as a Member of Parliament between 2006 and 2010, was sentenced to six years in jail last year for having embezzled 11 million crowns from a government grant. The former politician has denied any wrongdoing and is reportedly planning to appeal the verdict at the Supreme Court.
Karel Schwarzenberg cast an invalid ballot in the election’s second round. Mr Schwarzenberg, who voted near his Central Bohemian home shortly after the polls opened at 2 PM, failed to insert his ballot in the official envelope before putting it into the ballot box, a moment captured by dozens of photo journalists. His vote will therefore be counted as invalid. Mr Schwarzenberg later said he had been disturbed by the presence of the media at the polling station.
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