Pro-Russian Czech president Milos Zeman wins second term

Czechs voting for president in test of pro-Russia incumbent

Czech president Milos Zeman has been elected to a second five-year term after winning a run-off vote. Zeman backed Donald Trump for the US presidency before Trump's election in 2016 - a rare position among leaders in Europe.

"It's important for us, for jobs; our country is at the heart of Europe but we can't go in just one direction", he said in Prague.

With 99.35% of districts reporting, Zeman won 51.55% of the vote to 48.44% for Drahos, who conceded the election before all ballots were counted.

"I would like to congratulate election victor Milos Zeman", Drahos told a crowd of supporters as he publicly acknowledged the result. The career scientist and chemistry professor said he planned to stay in politics, but did not provide details.

The tough-talking 73-year-old Zeman, known for his inflammatory remarks against the European Union, immigrants, Islam, the media and urban elites, was Prime Minister from 1998 to 2002 before being elected President in 2013.

He also has divided the nation with his pro-Russian stance and support for closer ties with China.

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

The victory represents a win for anti-establishment political forces who are fighting against the EU's liberal, multi-cultural values including Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and Poland's ruling Law & Justice Party. Zeman has said that even if he loses the election, he will swear Babis in as prime minister before his term expires on March 8.

While the last poll put Drahos, 68, three percentage points ahead of the incumbent, betting odds showed the opposite, slightly favoring Zeman.

His position also allows him to appoint central bank board members and judges.

The Czech constitution gives presidents limited executive powers, but President Zeman has not hesitated to test the boundaries.

The Kremlin was quick to offer its congratulations in a statement, saying that "Vladimir Putin emphasised Russia's appreciation for Mr. Zeman's stance favouring friendly Russian-Czech relations". He called Russia's annexation of the Crimean Peninsula irreversible.

"This policy of Zeman is unlikely to change", Charles University's Mlejnek said.

He has linked extremist attacks in Europe to the ongoing influx of newcomers, called the immigration wave an "organised invasion" and repeatedly said that Islam is not compatible with European culture.

Addressing reporters and supporters - including the heads of far-right parties - Zeman thanked the voters for his re-election.

Billboards across the Czech Republic sought to appeal to voters with anti-migrant messages: 'Stop immigrants and Drahos.

During the debate, Drahos called Zeman "a representative of the past political era.a symbol of division".

The four other top candidates - who accounted for 32.5% of the vote - are now urging voters to back Drahos, so the final outcome is likely to be tight.

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