Decision time in Czech presidential poll

Decision time in Czech presidential poll
By Euronews
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Voters are choosing between the Russia-friendly populist incumbent and a pro-European academic challenger


The Czech Republic votes on Friday and Saturday in a tight presidential run-off between two very different candidates.

Seeking re-election is Russia-friendly, anti-immigration political veteran Milos Zeman, who won the first round of voting two weeks ago.

Opinion polls now put him neck and neck with Jiri Drahos, a chemistry professor and former head of the Academy of Sciences, who has taken a strongly pro-European stance.

Both candidates went head to head in a final television debate on Thursday night.

"I am a candidate who looks into the future. Milos Zeman has nothing left to give to this country," Drahos said.

Zeman, who rejects claims that Russia may have interfered in the vote, attacked Drahos for inexperience, saying:

"It is quite courageous to aspire for the highest post in the country and know nothing about politics."

Immigration is a key election issue in one of the EU's most eurosceptic member states.

Zeman has criticised immigration flows from Muslim countries.

His rival must overcome voters' suspicions that he is soft on immigration, with public opinion strongly against EU attempts to impose compulsory quotas for each member state to accept refugees.

The president, elected for five years, is not involved in day-to-day politics but appoints central bankers and judges, and picks which politician can form a government - a process the Czech Republic has been going through since an inconclusive election last year.

with Reuters

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