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The Czech Republic is deciding whether to re-elect pro-Russian president Milos Zeman for a second term or replace him with career academic Jiri Drahos, who has pledged to strengthen the country's ties with its allies in the European Union and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.

According to data released by Czech Statistical Office (CSU), in the 99.2 percent calculated vote, Zeman won 51.58 percent of it and Drahos won 48.41 percent of the vote.

A pre-vote poll by the Kantar TNS and Median agencies showed the two candidates neck-and-neck, with the divisive 73-year-old ex-communist Zeman credited with 45.5 percent of the vote against 45 percent for the academic Drahos.

Zeman, a veteran of Czech politics and former left-wing prime minister, won his first term in 2013 during the Czech Republic's first presidential election decided by voters, not lawmakers. According to the Guardian, his opponent Zeman has been friendly with Russian Federation while Drahoš is widely seen as a pro-West candidate.

A victory by Drahoš (68) would have brought a voice more in tune with the European Union into Czech politics and helped set the country apart from its ex-communist peers Poland and Hungary, which have locked horns with the bloc.

"This is my last political victory, there will be no political defeats", he told the crowd, flanked by advisers and the leaders of the far-right, anti-EU and anti-NATO SPD party and the Social Democrat party that he once led.

Voting in Prague, Zeman slammed political novice Drahos, dubbing him a rival "who hasn't dealt with politics yet", while Drahos vowed the energy generated during the campaign "won't be wasted, whatever the outcome".

One of the Czech president's key responsibilities is picking the prime minister after a general election, power that was on display in the days before the runoff election. He won nearly 40% of the vote in the first round.

Zeman's stance is similar to other populist EU-skeptic politicians in Warsaw and Budapest.

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"This policy of Zeman is unlikely to change", Charles University's Mlejnek said.

Five of the seven other candidates in the first round of the presidential election had endorsed Drahoš in the run-off.

"It's an excellent result", Freedom and Direct Democracy chairman Tomio Okamura said of Zeman's re-election.

Both Zeman and Drahoš have rejected the EU's refugee quotas, but unlike Zeman, Drahoš has said his country should differentiate between economic migrants and war refugees and follow the bloc's asylum procedures.

A group of Zeman's supporters commissioned billboards and newspaper ads that called on citizens to "Stop Migrants and Drahos", adding "This is our land!"

Zeman won the first round with nearly 40% of the vote compared to his main opponent's 27%, suggesting that Zeman is the favourite to lead again.

The false information alleged that he co-operated with the Communist-era secret police and was willing to accept an European Union plan to redistribute asylum-seekers among member countries, the institute said.

The role of the Czech president is influential; Mr Zeman can name the prime minister and sign bills passed by parliament into law.


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