Storming the castle: Miloš Zeman’s victory exacerbates Czech Republic’s political flux

With cries of “Long live Zeman” ringing out around a packed conference room at the Top Hotel Praha Jan. 26, a triumphant Miloš Zeman bustled his way through the media scrum to step onstage and deliver his first speech as future president. He vowed to represent all Czechs and promised to stamp out a corruption problem that has plagued successive governments here.

“As a president elected in a direct popular vote, I will try to be the voice of every citizen,” he said to loud cheers from the crowd. “I want to be president of the bottom 10 million. These include the voters of both Miloš Zeman and Karel Schwarzenberg. I do not want to be president of the mafia groups who act as parasites on this society.”

The former prime minister emerged victorious from a bruising campaign that has divided the nation, and one during which he was accused of unfairly attacking Schwarzenberg, his conservative opponent.

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(Photo: Orlando Pinto)