The Latest: Czech president has big lead in early results


The Latest on the Czech Republic’s presidential election (all times local):

2:45 p.m.

Voting has ended in the first round of the Czech Republic’s presidential election, and early results show the anti-migrant incumbent with a huge lead.

The Czech Statistics Office says President Milos Zeman had 43.8 percent of the vote with ballots from over 15 percent of polling stations counted on Saturday. Zeman, a former prime minister, was elected in 2013 during the country’s first direct presidential vote.

If the 73-year-old gets a majority in the first round, he will be elected outright. If not, the top two finishers in the nine-candidate contest will face each other in a runoff in two weeks.

His strongest challenger, former Czech Academy of Sciences head Jiri Drahos, was running a distant second on Saturday with 24.2 percent of the counted ballots. Former diplomat Pavel Fischer was third with 8.8 percent.

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11:05 a.m.

The Czechs are casting ballots for a second day in their presidential election.

President Milos Zeman, 73, is seeking re-election and is considered the favorite to win the first-round vote taking place Friday and Saturday.

The former president of the Academy of Sciences, Jiri Drahos, and popular song writer Michal Horacek are considered his major challengers among the eight other candidates.

If no candidate achieves a majority, the top two will face each other in a runoff in two weeks.

Zeman was elected in 2013 during the country’s first direct presidential vote, a victory that returned the former left-leaning prime minister to power.

In office, he’s become known for strong anti-migrant rhetoric. He has divided the nation with his pro-Russian stance and his support for closer ties with China.

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