Prague, Jan 12 (CTK) – The first round of a direct presidential election in the Czech Republic, the second one in the country’s history, started at 14:00 today.

Like five years ago, voters can choose from nine candidates, including the incumbent President Milos Zeman.

The polling stations will close at 22:00 today. The election will continue from 8:00 till 14:00 on Saturday.

Then the election commissioners will start counting the votes and send the data to the Czech Statistical Office (CSU) that will be releasing them on its website. The final results are to be available on Saturday evening.

If none of the candidates wins an absolute majority of the vote, the second round, to which two candidates with the strongest support will advance, will take place two weeks later, on January 26-27.

Politicians, including Zeman, Prime Minister Andrej Babis (ANO) and the major parties’ leaders, will be traditionally among the first voters today. The other presidential candidates as well as former president Vaclav Klaus will also cast their votes this afternoon.

Along with Zeman, former Science Academy chairman Jiri Drahos, businessman and lyricist Michal Horacek, former Civic Democrat (ODS) chairman and ex-PM Mirek Topolanek, medical doctor and university teacher Marek Hilser, former ambassador to France Pavel Fischer, Skoda Auto former board chairman Vladimir Kulhanek, Defence and Security Industry Association President Jiri Hynek and musician and producer Petr Hannig are running for president.

Due to time differences, the Czechs in Brazil were the first to take part in the presidential election at Czech diplomatic offices at 14:00 (17:00 CET) on Thursday.

hol/dr/kva

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