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February 20, 2018

Czech president could face stiff re-election challenge: poll

Czech president could face stiff re-election challenge: poll
'Czech president could face stiff re-election challenge: poll' - By: AFP PATRICK KOVARIK

Incumbent Czech President Milos Zeman could face a serious challenge from academic Jiri Drahos in a presidential run-off later this month, a poll showed Tuesday.

A first round of polling on Friday and Saturday will yield two finalists for the run-off two weeks later, unless one of the nine candidates wins outright with more than 50 percent of the vote.

Drahos, the former head of the Czech Academy of Sciences (CAS), would beat Zeman with 48.5 percent against 44 for the incumbent in round two on January 26-27, according to the poll commissioned by Czech Television (CT).

But the January 3-7 survey of more than 1,000 respondents also found Zeman led the pack of nine candidates in first-round preferences, with 42.5 percent, compared with Drahos's 27.5 percent.

Zeman, a 73-year-old former communist with strong pro-Russian, pro-Chinese and anti-immigrant views, is seeking a second term after winning the EU member state's first-ever direct presidential election in 2013.

Drahos, 68, a pro-European and pro-NATO centrist, headed the CAS from 2009 to 2017.

The poll was conducted for CT by polling agencies Median and Kantar TNS.

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