'Femen' Attacks Czech President With Breasts As He Votes

14 January, 2018, 00:47 | Author: Edward Snyder
  • Presidential elections tests the power Euro scepticism and anti-immigrant sentiment in the Czech Republic

He has strong support mainly in the countryside of the nation of 10.6 million people, and often snipes at Prague elites and the media.

The vote, likely to end in a run-off in two weeks, is seen as a referendum on 73-year-old Zeman, in office since 2013, who has harshly criticized migration from Muslim countries and is keen to boost ties with Russian Federation and China.

A recent poll for Czech Television showed Drahos winning a second-round vote with 48.5 percent support against 44 percent for Zeman. "I want to bring a completely different style of presidency, bring people together, not label them, a clear embedding of the Czech Republic in Europe, with North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and the European Union as allies, not China", Drahos, 68, said in an interview at www.dvtv.cz news website earlier in January.

According to Czech police, the woman was a Ukrainian, who hid among journalists who were waiting for Zeman at the polling station.

Re-election for Zeman would give one of Europe's most ardent Euroskeptic leaders a platform for another five years. A mild-mannered liberal centrist whom critics have dubbed "wishy-washy", he has called for Prague to "play a more active role in the EU" and has backed the adoption of the euro.

As the results rolled in, analyst Jiri Pehe told AFP that "Zeman will have a huge problem in the second round".

But the controversial populist could face a tougher threat from a single opponent in a run-off in two weeks if he does not win outright in the first round.

Horacek and Hilser showed up at Drahos's headquarters to shake hands, while Fischer also voiced his support.

The first day of voting on Friday saw Zeman confronted by a topless anti-Kremlin protestor, who called him "Putin's slut" as he made his vote in Prague. The 73-year-old is also seen as receptive to authoritarian regimes, while becoming one of Russia's most dependable allies in Europe.

After casting his ballot in Prague, Lubos Seidl said the election boiled down to "a clash between the people who think the old way and those who think the new way".

A former centre-left prime minister, Zeman has adopted a strongly anti-immigration stance, echoing the majority feeling in the country, and has won endorsements from the Communist Party as well as the main far-right SPD group.

Many voters remained undecided until the last minute, with Prague archivist Marcela Riegerova saying she "ended up tossing a coin to decide between two candidates, and Drahos came out the victor".

"As you can see, my security detail works quite well because she did not get to me", said the Czech president.

Zeman has the backing of embattled billionaire Prime Minister Andrej Babis, who said the incumbent "fights for our national interests" but called on him to "unite, not divide" Czechs.

But if one of the rivals wins, this will represent a huge change in the politics of this country that celebrates its 25th anniversary this year.

"We say in Czech that "the fish stinks from the head" and that perfectly sums up Mr Zeman's term", he says.

Election officials said voter turnout was 61.9 percent in the preliminary election.


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