Prague - Former Prime Minister Milos Zeman, a left-wing candidate, has won the run-off presidential election with 54.8 percent of the vote, against current Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg's 45.2 percent.
Zeman has secured approximately 2.7 million votes, while around 2.2 million people have voted for Schwarzenberg. Zeman's lead is thus roughly 500,000 votes.
The first round's voter turnout was 5.2 million, or 61 percent of the total. Turnout in the run-off election is 59.1 percent. There are approximately 8.5 million of eligible voters in the Czech Republic.
After the final results were announced, Zeman said he would be a "president of all" and a "president of the bottom ten million". The former prime minister also said that his first state visit as president will be to Slovakia, and suggested a snap election as a solution of the current political situation.
Foreign Minister Schwarzenberg said that the run-off election was decided by a "fierce campaign" and lies. He also said he will stay in Czech politics and continue to lead the senior government TOP 09 party.
Miroslav Slouf, a controversial lobbyist with links to Russian businessmen, admitted having participated in the Zeman campaign, even though Zeman had repeatedly said during the campaign that he had cut all his ties with Slouf. Slouf even said that this deliberate mystification was a "trick" of his own making. "I did not want my name to become a topic of the campaign," he said to Aktualne.cz
Experts agree that Zeman as president will not shy away from actively interfering with Czech politics, even though the position is mostly ceremonial.
Outgoing President Vaclav Klaus's term expires in March.
Both Schwarzenberg and Zeman qualified for the run-off vote in the first round two weeks ago. In a surprising development, former Prime Minister Jan Fischer, who was expected to pass easily to the second round by opinion polls in the months prior to the first round, came in third place in the vote with 16.35 percent of votes.
The run-off campaign was marked by emotional nationalist rhetoric, mostly centered on Schwarzenberg's controversial stance on the so-called Benes Decrees and his German-speaking aristocratic family.
autor: Aktualne.cz, Ivan Eckhardt | 26. 1. 2013
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