Czech President Milos Zeman defeated pro-EU academic Jiri Drahos in the Czech presidential election on Saturday, a tacit endorsement Zeman’s tough stance against immigration and his courtship of Russia and China, Reuters reported.
With 99.35 percent of districts reporting, Zeman won 51.55 percent of the vote to 48.44 percent for Drahos, who conceded the vote before all ballots were counted.
Zeman, 73, is the last prominent figure among active politicians from the country’s post-communist transitional period in the 1990s. He has pleased some but alienated others by publicly belittling opponents ranging from the last prime minister to intellectual elites and the press.
The vote reflected the divisions between liberals and conservatives seen elsewhere in Europe and in the United States.
Zeman has taken a tough stance on immigration and was one of the few European politicians to back Donald Trump in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
He has also rankled much of society for warm relations with Russian President Vladimir Putin and calls to end European Union sanctions against Moscow imposed over its annexation of Crimea.
Zeman has also been lukewarm toward the EU, calling himself a federalist and saying he supports membership in the bloc while also favoring holding an in-or-out referendum, like the one that has led to Britain’s impending exit.
“Zeman never questioned the Czech membership in the EU, but on the other hand he said he would welcome a referendum on exit and in practice he significantly deviated from both EU and NATO,” said political analyst Michael Romancov.
Described Drahos as the “unequivocally pro-EU and an euro-Atlantic candidate”.