Pro-Russian President Recaptures Czech Republic

  • Petr Boháček
  • 29.1.2018 11:32

Czech populist President Milos Zeman outperformed his opponent Jiri Drahos, a liberal pro-Western Academy of Sciences president, by 175,000 votes in a 51.36% to 48.63% victory in the 26-27 January presidential election.

As a president, Zeman has echoed Russian propaganda claims for the last five years regarding Russia’s campaign in Syria, EU sanctions, the annexation of Crimea or Eastern Ukraine war. His re-election, albeit narrow, was secured by the mobilisation of his voter base in a surprisingly high 66.6% voter turnout as well as by people in areas dominated by manual employment and fears of globalisation. Despite the president being only a ceremonial role in the Czech Republic, the victory signalled a worrying shift towards populist and extremist tendencies following the downfall of traditional political parties. Zeman and Prime Minister Andrej Babis, both populists and allies, will continue to test judicial, institutional and other democratic safeguards in the country and raise the likelihood of strengthening extremist parties through cooperation, including the far-right anti-migrant SPD or the Communists. The election and recent political turmoil confirm concerns over democracy and EU integration across other Eastern European countries.

About author: Petr Boháček

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