Well, second election day, really – the Czechs started voting yesterday and the voting stations just closed 4 minutes ago, at 2PM on Saturday 26 January. And of course, before that there were two more election days during the first round of the presidential elections, two weeks ago. If not the first election day in this campaign, this will be the last: voting has ended and in about 20 minutes they will publish the first results. This gives me some time to give a quick overview of what happened yesterday during the first day of second round voting.
It started in the morning when Schwarzenberg failed to cast a vote for himself, invalidating his ballot by not putting it in a little envelope. Schwarzenberg then attracted further attention when he announced that he would pursue criminal charges for violation of electoral law against the person or person who placed an anti-Schwarzenberg ad in Blesk. The ad called on voters not to vote for Schwarzenberg, making the point that Schwarzenberg associates with Sudeten Germans and is on their side rather than on the side of Czechs – thus continuing a trend that has developed over the last two weeks since the first round in which Schwarzenbergs patriotism and commitment to the Czech nation was questioned by several of his opponents including by current president Klaus. Klaus, by the way, announced that he considers emigrating if Schwarzenberg wins – which is remarkable given that he held it against Schwarzenberg that *he* emigrated at the age of 11, when the communists came to power, and given that Klaus values those who ‘stand with the Czech people in times good and bad’ (paraphrasing here – basically he means: Zeman-good; Schwarzenberg-bad). To add to my enjoyment of the first day of the elections and all the drama that it entailed, the ad-placer (from whose deceitful ad the Zeman campaign distanced itself) turned out to be a former StB (=communist secret service) agent.
As I’ve written this, the first results have come in and with about 0.1% of the votes counted, Zeman is in the lead. Stay tuned, folks!
UPDATE (14:32): Zeman is winning. With 10 per cent of the districts reporting, Zeman has about 60 per cent of the vote.
UPDATE (14:45): The fact that the person placing the ad about Schwarzenberg is causing some strong reactions – one observer for LN calls Zeman’s campaign a ‘co-production of the StB‘. In the meantime, Zeman is still up by about 58.5 % with about 36 per cent of the votes counted. There’s still a lot of Prague votes coming in though, and Prague is a Schwarzenberg stronghold.
UPDATE (14:51): MAPS. Zeman is taking Africa and Europe, but Schwarzenberg is taking Asia!
UPDATE (15:10): Screenshot. Europe has fallen to Schwarzenberg!
UPDATE (15:31): Czech media are reluctant to call it but I’m not. With almost 90 per cent of the votes counted, Zeman is up over half a million votes. Even if all remaining votes went to Schwarzenberg, he still would not win. I’m calling it: next President of the Czech Republic is Miloš Zeman! (I’d better not be wrong about this. Then again, I still have a few months of field work ahead of me so there’s still time to learn. LN just called it too, though.)