“For all of the speak of Russian meddling — and I consider they’ve meddled past a shadow of a doubt,” he added, “Europe is dividing itself, and they don’t have to do a lot.”
Outdoors observers cited for instance of Russian interference a pernicious social media marketing campaign towards Mr. Drahos that accused him, with no proof, of being a collaborator of the key police throughout Communist rule.
However Mr. Koran famous that Mr. Zeman’s success was most certainly fueled by deep divisions in Czech society and the president’s means to faucet into the nervousness of many Czechs who reside outdoors affluent cities.
Mr. Zeman’s victory will most probably be seen with concern by the nation’s conventional allies like France and Germany, in addition to leaders who’re on the lookout for higher integration among the many European Union’s member nations.
“They’ll proceed to need to cope with an unpredictable, grumpy populist; with an oligarch prime minister; and the help of the communists in Moscow,” Mr. Koran stated.
Eliska Haskova Coolidge, a Zeman supporter and influential public determine, stated that many fears of these within the West have been overblown. She stated she thought that Mr. Zeman’s objective was a wholesome relationship with Russia, not a subservient one.
Ms. Coolidge, whose household fled the nation after World Warfare II, spent 20 years working in Washington earlier than returning house. She stated she was no fan of Mr. Zeman’s vulgarity, however was prepared to miss a few of his flaws as a result of she admired the depth of his expertise.
“It’s so essential to have a pacesetter who understands politics and who has met with world leaders,” she stated.
In the long run, Czech voters agreed.
Mr. Drahos conceded the race and congratulated Mr. Zeman. “This isn’t the top,” Mr. Drahos advised supporters gathered in Prague. “We’ll keep on.”
He then led members of the gang, some in tears, in a solemn rendition of the nationwide anthem.
Mr. Zeman’s re-election was additionally a victory for the nation’s billionaire prime minister, Andrej Babis, who was appointed by Mr. Zeman and supported his marketing campaign. The president has vowed to stay with him despite the fact that Mr. Babis is facing criminal fraud charges.
The election was not solely a contest of competing visions for the nation’s place in Europe and the world, but in addition a conflict between two candidates with decidedly totally different types.
Proudly antediluvian, with an admitted fondness for consuming and smoking, the acerbic Mr. Zeman has been criticized as contributing to the coarseness of the present political local weather. His impolitic remarks — like jokes about “liquidating” journalists — have earned him comparisons to President Trump.
Mr. Drahos, the previous chief of the Czech Academy of Sciences, has by no means held political workplace, and his inexperience was evident within the first of two debates. Wanting nervous, he sat on the sting of his seat, whereas Mr. Zeman reclined and appeared as if he have been in his personal front room, drink in hand.
Within the second debate, Mr. Drahos was extra assured and extra direct in his assaults on the president.
“Mr. Zeman is the previous,” he stated. “He’s now a logo of division and identify-calling.”
Mr. Drahos’s supporters had hoped a victory would presage a return to civility. In live shows held throughout the nation within the week earlier than the election, a number of the nation’s greatest-recognized artists and musicians turned out as a lot to voice opposition to Mr. Zeman as to help Mr. Drahos.
Many wore pins with the message “Decency is power.”
For a lot of of Mr. Zeman’s supporters, nevertheless, his indecency is his power, they usually say his blunt speech is required to counteract cowardly political blather.
Mr. Zeman was elected in 2013 within the first direct presidential vote held within the Czech Republic after it broke free from Soviet rule in 1989. Though he has an extended historical past in politics and had served as prime minister, he forged himself as a populist savior working for the widespread man.
“You aren’t alone anymore,” was the Zeman slogan plastered on billboards and echoed in assembly after assembly in small cities and villages. His victory then was seen by many as a rebuke of the suitable-of-middle political institution that had grown smug and out of contact.
However because the migrant disaster in Europe blossomed in 2014, and nations confronted the best flood of humanity looking for refuge on the continent because the finish of the Second World Conflict, Mr. Zeman was one of many first European politicians to grab on the difficulty.
He sought to seal off the nation and defied efforts by the European Union to drive member nations to share the burden equally by taking in migrants via a quota system.
Mr. Zeman stated Muslims might by no means be built-in in Czech society and warned of jihadists who might “blow the Prague citadel up within the air,” tapping into an nervousness felt deeply all through the nation and the area. The message would quickly be championed by a number of populist leaders, together with these in neighboring nations.
However this Czech election marketing campaign was notable for the shortage of debate on immigration. The Zeman place was the default place. Nonetheless, Mr. Zeman sought to painting Mr. Drahos as a hazard to society.
“Cease migrants and Drahos,” learn an advert in newspapers and on billboards. “This nation is ours. Vote for Zeman.”
Mr. Drahos returned hearth by attacking considered one of Mr. Zeman’s prime advisers, Martin Nejedly, who is understood for his shut ties to Russia.
“Cease Russian Invasion and Nejedly,” the Drahos workforce wrote in a social media marketing campaign. “This nation isn’t yours. Vote for Drahos.”
The query of whether or not the Czech Republic will proceed to look to China and Russia was a essential situation within the final days of the marketing campaign. Whereas Mr. Zeman has stated typically that he’s dedicated to the European Union and NATO, he has additionally stated he’s open to a referendum on membership within the bloc.
Jan Stetka, a author for the economics newspaper Hospodarske Noviny, wrote on Friday that the election was an opportunity to guage Mr. Zeman not on his rhetoric, however on his efficiency.
“Can anyone say immediately that the majority Czechs are collectively glad concerning the state of affairs within the nation? Or that hundreds of thousands of individuals within the Czech, Moravian or Silesian countryside that’s emptying up don’t really feel deserted by their political illustration?” he wrote.
“The opposite is true. The society is split and frightened by tacking between West and East, by alleged inner and exterior menace, because it has probably by no means been earlier than.”
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