published: 11.01.2013, 14:33 | updated: 11.01.2013 14:36:51
Prague - The first direct presidential election in the Czech Republic started at 14:00 today when the polling stations opened all over the country.
Nine candidates are running in the polls.
Politicians, such as outgoing President Vaclav Klaus and PM Petr Necas, as well as the presidential candidates will be traditionally the first to cast their votes.
The first election day ends at 22:00.
The election will continue from 08:00 to 14:00on Saturday, January 12.
Then the election commissioners will start counting the votes and send the results to the Czech Statistical Office (CSU) that will release them on it website.
The candidates for head of state are former PMs Milos Zeman and Jan Fischer, Foreign Minister and government TOP 09 leader Karel Schwarzenberg, Social Democrat (CSSD) senator Jiri Dienstbier, composer and artist Vladimir Franz, government Civic Democrat (ODS) candidate Premysl Sobotka, Jana Bobosikova, chairwoman of the extra-parliamentary Sovereignty party, MEP Zuzana Roithova (Christian Democrats, KDU-CSL) and actress and civic activist Tana Fischerova.
If none of them receives over 50 percent of the vote in the first round, the two candidates with the highest support will advance to the second round that will be held two weeks later.
Czech citizens living abroad can also elect the president at Czech embassies and consulates.
Over the time difference, the first election day in Australia has already ended.
In Argentina, Brazil and Chile as well as the United States and Canada, Czechs can also elect a new president one day earlier, on January 10. Over 200 people took part in the polls in the United States and Canada on the first election day.
The total turnout in the presidential polls might be higher than in the previous general election in the Czech Republic held in mid-2010 in which almost two-thirds of voters participated.
Klaus´s second and last five-year term in office expires in early March 2013.
So far Czech president has been elected by both houses of parliament.
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