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     Václav Klaus wins second term as Czech President  <<back  next>>

Czech President Václav Klaus has won a second five-year term, defeating Jan Svejnar, an economics professor at the University of Michigan.

Klaus, a dominant figure in Czech politics for nearly two decades, who needed 140 votes to win, was supported by 141 MPs in the third round of voting, against Svejnar's 111.

A third candidate, sitting MEP Jana Bobošíková, who had been nominated by the Communist Party, dropped out shortly before the voting began.

Under the Czech constitution, the president has the power to appoint the prime minister and appoint judges of the Constitutional Court and board members of the Czech National Bank, but has little executive power otherwise.

Klaus, 66, succeeded Václav Havel, the dissident playwright who led the 1989 revolution that ended communist rule, in February 2003. He is considered a conservative known for his opposition to the legalisation of drugs, euthanasia and same-sex marriage.

Klaus is credited with introducing market reforms as Czechoslovakia's finance minister in the early 1990s. He became prime minister in 1993, when the Czechoslovakia split into the Czech Republic and Slovakia, and was parliamentary speaker from 1998 to 2002.

The Czech republic will assume the rotating presidency of the European Union in the first half of 2009. Klaus has criticised the EU for being too centralised, and in contrast to the majority of Czech citizens, supports a US plan to place a radar base near Prague as part of a so-called missile-defence sysytem.

18 February 2008

 Last updated: 18/02/2008 12:14:00

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