PRAGUE (AP) — The Latest on the presidential election in the Czech Republic (all times local):
Voting has ended in the runoff of the Czech Republic’s presidential election, and early results show the anti-migrant incumbent taking a lead.
The Czech Statistics Office said President Milos Zeman had 57.1 percent of the vote with ballots from almost 15 percent of polling stations counted on Saturday. His opponent, former Academy of Sciences head Jiri Drahos, had 42.9 percent.
The 73-year-old Zeman, a former left-wing prime minister, was elected in 2013 during the Czech Republic’s first direct presidential vote.
Since then, he has divided the nation with his pro-Russian stance and support for closer ties with China. Drahos, a 68-year-old political newcomer, is seen as more Western-oriented.
The Czech Republic’s presidency is largely a ceremonial post, but among the office holder’s key responsibilities is picking the prime minister after a general election.
That power was put on display this week as voters prepared to cast ballots in the second round of the country’s presidential election.
The Czech government led by populist billionaire Andrej Babis resigned on Wednesday after failing to win a confidence vote. President Milos Zeman immediately asked Babis, his ally, to try again.
Zeman is seeking re-election in a runoff election that ends Saturday. He has said that even if he loses to challenger Jiri Drahos, he will swear Babis in as prime minister before his term expires on March 8.
The president also appoints members of the Central Bank board and selects Constitutional Court judges with the approval of Parliament’s upper house.
Czechs are casting ballots for a second day in the presidential runoff, with the former head of the Academy of Sciences challenging the pro-Russian incumbent.
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 ballot that ends Saturday.
Since he was elected in 2013, Zeman has divided the nation with his pro-Russian stance and support for closer ties with China. The former left-leaning prime minister has become known for his strong anti-migrant and anti-Muslim rhetoric.
Drahos, 68, a political newcomer, is seen as more Western-oriented.