Milos Zeman set to secure election’s first round

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CZECH REPUBLIC: Former leftist prime minister Milos Zeman appeared to be heading for victory in the first round of the presidential election in the Czech Republic last night.

With votes from more than half of polling stations counted yesterday, Zeman was leading with 25.37 per cent of the vote.

Foreign minister Karel Schwarzenberg and another former premier, Jan Fischer, were fighting for second place with 20.35 and 17.37 per cent respectively.

Czechs are electing their president in a direct popular vote for the first time, choosing from nine candidates to replace Eurosceptic Vaclav Klaus.

Zeman and Fischer were considered favourites. If no candidate achieves a majority, the top two finishers will face each other in a run-off in two weeks.