Three months after the election of the populist Eurosceptic and billionaire Andrej Babis as prime minister, Czechs will once again head to the polls on Friday and Saturday to elect a new president. The favourite in the field of nine candidates vying for a spot in the election runoff later this month is the outspoken incumbent, President Milos Zeman, who at 73 has watched his country become more politically divided during his five-year tenure. As a member of an increasingly right-wing regional alliance of Central European nations, named the Visegrad Group, that includes Hungary, Poland and Slovakia, the Czech Republic stands at an ideological crossroads with the rise of the country’s xenophobic far right, which rose to parliament in October’s legislative elections.
Zeman has been a vocal opponent of Muslim integration and is seen as sympathetic to authoritarian regimes, while also becoming one of the Kremlin’s most dependable allies in Europe.
They are views worrying many Czechs, who fear that their country may be backsliding from the democratic system they fought so fervently to achieve during the 1989 Velvet Revolution, which ended four decades under communism.
“In terms of a possible change in terms of a political movement, this is certainly the most important presidential election [in recent history]