EUROPE

POPULIST REPUBLIC: Czech Republic re-elects populist President who wants referendum on EU membership

A POPULIST politician running on an Anti-Migration, Anti-EU and Pro-Trump message has won re-election in the Czech Republic.

The anti-immigration President, Milos Zeman resisted a challenge from political novice Jiri Drahos.

Zeman won 51.4 percent of the vote from the two-day runoff while Drahos won 48.6 percent.

Czech Radio reports that Drahos won in most of the main cities, while Zeman scored big with smaller towns and the countryside, with analysts saying Zeman’s “common touch” made the difference.

Zeman, a former left-wing prime minister who ascended to the presidency in 2013, had been widely criticized for what critics described as Islamophobic rhetoric, and had also raised concerns in Western Europe by taking a distinctly pro-Russian approach on questions such as the annexation of Crimea.

Zeman, who has warned of an “organized invasion” of migrants and asked why young men fleeing their country didn’t take up arms and fight back home, had embraced the populist wave that swept through the West in 2016.

He was one of very few European leader to endorse President Donald Trump’s bid for the White House and also called for a referendum on the Republic’s membership of the European Union.

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