Speaking at an improvised news conference at his headquarters in Prague, president-elect Miloš Zeman said his victory was “convincing”, and promised to be the voice of all Czechs, not just those who backed him in the election. After thanking his campaign team, Mr Zeman said he would outline a detailed programme of his presidency in an address to the Czech Parliament. The newly elected president reiterated that he would visit Slovakia on his first trip abroad, and asked his 18-year-old daughter Kateřina to informally play the role of the “first miss” as his wife wished to stay out of the public arena.
The outgoing Czech president, Václav Klaus, has welcomed the election of Miloš Zeman as his successor. In a reference to the motto of the late president Václav Havel, Mr Klaus told Czech Radio that in Mr Zeman’s election, “truth and love have finally prevailed over lies and hatred”. Mr Klaus, who is on a working visit to Chile, said he was glad that Czechs did not get confused by an incredible media campaign ahead of the vote, adding that result of the election was a huge satisfaction for all those who “mean well” for the country.
Miloš Zeman has been elected president of the Czech Republic. The former Social Democrat prime minister received 54.8 percent of the vote in the second round of the direct presidential elections on Saturday while his rival for the post, Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg, obtained 45.2 percent. Miloš Zeman won in all Czech regions with the exception of Prague. The turnout in the runoff reached over 59 percent, less than in the first round two weeks ago. Miloš Zeman will be inaugurated on March 8, the day after Václav Klaus’s second term expires.
Polling stations across the country opened at 2 PM on Friday for Czechs to vote in the second round of the historical first direct presidential election. Voters will be choosing between former Social Democrat prime minister Miloš Zeman and the current foreign minister, Karel Schwarzenberg. Polls will close at 10 PM on Friday and will open again between 8 AM and 2 PM on Saturday; results of the vote are expected to come in on Saturday afternoon. Czech citizens abroad began voting in the presidential runoff at Czech embassies and consulates first in the Americas, followed by Australia and East Asia. Polls in European and African countries will be open during the same hours as in the Czech Republic.
Two elderly women have died of complications caused by the A/H1N1 flu strain in the north-eastern Czech Republic, the regional hygiene officer said on Friday. A flu epidemic has broken out in several other Czech regions including Central and Southern Bohemia, Southern Moravia, and the Hradec Králové and Zlín regions, the authorities said. Around 40 people have died of flu-related causes since the Czech Republic was first hit by the epidemic last month.
Czech recipients of EU funds received nearly 403 billion crowns, or 52 percent of subsidies earmarked for Czech Republic for the period of 2007 – 2013, according to a report by the Ministry of Regional Development released on Friday. The total amount of EU funds allocated for the Czech Republic for the seven year period reached nearly 785 billion; however, the Czech authorities have registered over 92,000 individual applications for EU subsidies totalling over 1.34 trillion crowns.
The other presidential candidate, Karel Schwarzenberg, said he would file a lawsuit over an anonymous advertisement which came out in the most widely-read Czech daily Blesk on Friday, calling on readers not to vote for Mr Schwarzenberg. The advertisement included false statements about Mr Schwarzenberg’s views. Legislation on direct presidential elections prohibits anonymous advertising. Mr Zeman’s campaign has denied being behind the anonymous advertisement; however, some lawyers believe this could lead to the cancellation of the result of the vote.
Three Czech tennis players will be playing at the Australian Open finals. The mixed doubles team, Lucie Hradecká and František Čermák, will face Australians Matthew Ebden and Jarmila Gajdošová. In the junior competition, the second seeded Kateřina Siniaková will play Ana Konjuh from Croatia in the finals after the sixteen-year-old Czech beat Estonia’s Anett Kontaveit in the semi-final. The last Czech who was left in the singles competition, Tomáš Berdych, had lost to Novak Djoković in the quarterfinal on Wednesday.
Smog alert has been declared in seven out of the country’s 14 regions. The areas worst affected by air pollution include the north-eastern Moravian-Silesian region, as well as Central Bohemia and the northern Ústí region. However, levels of dust in the air have meanwhile decreased in most parts of the country. Meteorologists believe pollution levels should further decrease early next week with the expected arrival of stronger winds and higher precipitation.
The Czech Office for Personal Data Protection will fine the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs over the controversial new electronic system of welfare benefits payments, known as S-Cards, a spokeswoman for the authority said on Friday. The announcement comes following a control of the system by the personal data watchdog at the ministry; the spokeswoman said the amount of the fine would be determined after the authority deals with objections by the ministry, adding that further details should be released next week.
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