Czech voters to give verdict on president’s anti-immigrant populism

Jiří Drahoš, main challenger to incumbent Miloš Zeman, pledges to ensure that country will face the west if he wins poll on Friday. The Czech president, Miloš Zeman, has been accused of promoting a climate of “vulgarity, incompetence and corruption” as the Czech Republic heads into a presidential election widely seen as a referendum on his controversial brand of anti-immigrant populism and the country’s place in the western alliance.

The scathing critique has been issued by a rival candidate, Jiří Drahoš, a former chairman of the Czech academy of sciences, who has emerged as the main challenger to Zeman in this week’s poll, to be held on Friday and Saturday.

Defeat for Zeman could profoundly affect Czech politics, particularly the future of the recently installed prime minister, Andrej Babiš, who heads a minority government heavily dependent on the current president’s support for its survival.

Drahoš told the Guardian that, if elected, he would not allow Babiš, a billionaire businessman and the Czech Republic’s second richest man, to continue as prime minister because he is facing criminal fraud charges over €2m (£1.8m) of European Union grants given to a farm and conference complex he owns south of Prague.

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