Czech President Milos Zeman has taken an early lead as votes are counted within the presidential election.
With most leads to, he had 39.three% with nearest rival Jiri Drahos on 26.2%.
Nonetheless, the BBC’s Rob Cameron in Prague says there are indications that the election will go to a second spherical later this month.
Mr Zeman, 73, is searching for a second five-year time period however has stoked controversy together with his outspoken views and pro-Russian stance.
Turnout within the first spherical, which came about over two days, was about 60%, election officers mentioned.
Many of the early outcomes got here from rural areas the place Mr Zeman’s assist is excessive. To keep away from a run-off he should win greater than 50% of the vote, however observers say that’s unlikely except there are dramatic adjustments in city outcomes.
If a second spherical is confirmed, it’s anticipated to be held on 26-27 January.
Mr Zeman’s forthright views on immigrants and political correctness have struck a chord in rural communities, our correspondent says.
Nonetheless, city voters usually tend to agree together with his pro-European challengers, who say he has poisoned the political ambiance and unsettled allies.
- The politically incorrect president dividing a nation
The primary spherical of voting handed uneventfully other than a semi-naked protester who tried to disrupt Mr Zeman casting his vote in Prague on Friday.
The topless lady from the feminist group Femen accused him of being within the pocket of Russian President Vladimir Putin. She was bundled away and Mr Zeman then forged his poll, however was visibly shaken by the incident.
President Zeman has turn into one of many EU’s most outspoken opponents of sanctions in opposition to Moscow and has additionally made enhancing relations with China a precedence.
Mr Drahos, a pro-European educational, has been forthright in his opposition to the president, saying: “We are saying in Czech that ‘the fish stinks from the top’ and that completely sums up Mr Zeman’s time period.”
Who’re the primary contenders?
- Joined the Communist Celebration in 1968 in the course of the “Prague Spring”, when liberal reforms had been crushed by Soviet intervention
- After communism fell he joined the left-leaning Social Democratic social gathering and have become chief in 1993
- In 2013 he turned the third president of the Czech Republic because it break up from Slovakia in 1993
- In his outspoken remarks on immigration he as soon as mentioned that Muslims had been “unimaginable to combine” into Europe
- Studied chemistry and expertise and was president of the Czech Academy of Sciences from 2009 to 2017
- He’s a supporter of EU and Nato membership buts opposes the EU’s quota system for distributing migrants, as do all different presidential contenders
- He considers himself a centrist politician who can unite the nation
- His major assist comes from pro-European voters and folks residing in cities