Milos Zeman wins first round of Czech presidential election, will face pro-European challenger in run off

“I invite all those who want to vote for me to come to the polling stations in round two too, and bring your friends, your lovers and their mistresses,” Mr Zeman, 73, told supporters gathered at his campaign headquarters in Prague on Saturday afternoon.

“I congratulate Jiri Drahos for this beautiful second place,” he added.

Mr Drahos, a former head of the Czech Academy of Sciences, immediately attacked Mr Zeman’s soft spot for Vladimir Putin’s Kremlin, telling supporters at his Prague headquarters that he would spend the next 15 days campaigning to “anchor the Czech Republic in Euro-Atlanticism.”

The chain-smoking Mr Zeman has been president of the Czech Republic since 2013. He draws much of his support from rural areas and often snipes at what he characterises as the Prague metropolitan elite.