Shift to the left in the czech republic: zeman wins presidential election

shift to the left in the czech republic: zeman wins presidential election

Zeman thus unexpectedly beat conservative challenger and incumbent auben minister karel schwarzenberg (75) by a clear margin. The nobleman scored only 45.19 percent, as the statistical office in prague announced on saturday.

The previous incumbent and fierce EU critic vaclav klaus was not allowed to compete again after ten years on prague’s hradcany hill. In contrast to klaus, zeman calls himself a "euro federalist. Communists and social democrats had campaigned for the left-wing populist.

He wants to be the "voice of all citizens," zeman said on national television, congratulating the loser on "an honorable second place". As president, he will work for the "bottom 10 million".

Schwarzenberg told his supporters, alluding to the aggressive campaign of his opponent: "we have suffered a defeat, but have preserved our honor."

In the historic ballot, the 8.4 million voters were able to directly determine their president for the first time. Czech president has largely repressive duties, but appoints head of government and constitutional judges.

For zeman, the victory is a satisfaction, because ten years ago he ran unsuccessfully for the highest office of the state. In a sometimes dirty election campaign, he presented himself as a down-to-earth tribune of the people. The two-meter man sought confrontation with his aristocratic challenger, who had long lived in vienna.

Schwarzenberg was put on the defensive after he condemned the expulsion of germans after the second world war as a violation of human rights. His time in exile was also chalked up to him. In addition, he is the deputy head of a center-right government that is unpopular because of harsh austerity measures.

Ex-social democrat zeman headed a minority government from 1998 to 2002. In an interview at the time, he defamed the sudeten germans as "hitler’s fifth column" and triggered an international scandal. Even his opponents acknowledge that as head of government, he brought foreign investors into the country.