Miloš Zeman leads first round of Czech Republic presidential elections

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Czechs wrapped up voting on Saturday in the first round of a presidential election in which eight candidates are seeking to oust Milos Zeman, whose inclination toward far-right groups and warm relations with Russian Federation and China have split public opinion.

Although Zeman was in pole position Saturday, the outspoken head of state was unlikely to win an outright majority, with a run-off expected on January 26-27.

The woman ran from a crowd of reporters at the Prague polling station and stood directly in front of Zeman, 73, who was preparing to present his identification to the election commission. Zeman is followed by pro-EU candidate Jiri Drahos, a 68-year-old chemistry professor and former chief of the academy of science, with 25.3 percent of the votes.

Incumbent Milos Zeman has won the first round of the Czech presidential election but faces a run-off after failing to gain the outright majority needed to win outright. CSU will release the results on its website, and the final results are to be available on Saturday evening.

With almost all the votes counted, Zeman was credited with 38.57 percent of the vote in the election, held Friday and Saturday, with Drahoš at 26.6 percent, well ahead of third-placed Pavel Fischer, a former ambassador to France, who garnered just over 10 percent.

He is also stridently anti-Muslim, having once called the 2015 migrant crisis "an organized invasion" of Europe and insisted Muslims were "impossible to integrate".

His more liberal rival Jiří Drahoš is staunchly pro-European and has called for Prague to "play a more active role in the EU".

The EU and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation country of 10.6 million people has received only 12 migrants under the EU quota system. Zeman was shocked and was took out of the room by two security guards.

Many voters may switch from their losing candidates to support the runner-up against Zeman. "It's clear that not everyone can agree, but the current president doesn't unite people, he divides them", Drahos added.

"We are in a situation where if everything goes badly we could be faced with regime change, and though not another dictatorship, we could still perhaps become an illiberal democracy", said political analyst Jiri Pehe, director of New York University in Prague.

Zeman says he is ready "to meet (Drahos') request" to face each other.

Mr Zeman has promised to give Babis a second chance to form a government if the first attempt fails. Drahos has said that if elected president he will not tolerate having the populist agro-chemicals tycoon Babis continue as PM while he remains a subject of an investigation into an allegedly fraudulent European Union subsidy application made for the Stork's Nest conference and rural recreation centre.

Milos Zeman was elected to the largely ceremonial post in 2013 during the country's first direct presidential vote, a victory that returned the former left-leaning prime minister to power.

But things could change dramatically if Drahos wins. Songwriter Michal Horacek finished fourth with 9.2 percent, ahead of physician Marek Hilser, who had 8.8 percent.

Polling stations closed at 2 p.m. (1300 GMT).

Soon after that initial results will indicate which two candidates are likely to contest the expected run-off vote.

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