Scientist challenges incumbent in Czech presidential runoff

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Scientist challenges incumbent in Czech presidential runoff
In this file picture taken on Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2018, Czech Republic's presidential candidates Jiri Drahos, left, and Milos Zeman, right, attend a TV debate before second round of Presidential Elections in Prague, Czech Republic. The former head of the Academy of Sciences Jiri Drahos faces the pro-Russian incumbent Milos Zeman in a tight Czech presidential runoff vote scheduled for Jan. 26-27, 2018. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)

PRAGUE (AP) — The Czechs are electing a new president, with the former head of the Academy of Sciences challenging the pro-Russian incumbent in a runoff vote.

President Milos Zeman and Jiri Drahos advanced to the second round of voting after none of the nine candidates seeking the largely ceremonial post received a majority in the first round two weeks ago.

Zeman, 73, is favored to win another five-year term but polls suggest a tight race in the two-day ballot starting Friday.

Since he was elected to the post in 2013, Zeman has become known for his strong anti-migrant and anti-Muslim rhetoric. The former left-leaning prime minister has also divided the nation with his pro-Russian stance and support for closer ties with China.

Drahos, 68, a political newcomer, is seen as more Western-oriented.