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Czechs voting in presidential election this weekend

It’s a tight race between former Prime Minister Milos Zeman, a left-wing populist, and the conservative Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg, a millionaire prince.

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A button depicting Czech presidential candidate Karel Schwarzenberg as a punk with red hair in front of a campaign poster of rival Milos Zeman. (RADEK MICA /AFP/Getty Images)

Citizens of the Czech Republic are casting their ballots this weekend for their third president since the country became an independent state 20 years ago, Bloomberg News reported.

Vaclav Klaus has been in the mostly ceremonial post since 2003, and Czech law prevents him from running again, according to Bloomberg News.

It’s a tight race between former Prime Minister Milos Zeman, a left-wing populist, and the conservative Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg, who wants closer ties with the European Union, the DPA wire service reported.

The 75-year-old Schwarzenberg is a millionaire prince whose campaign got a boost from images designed by artist David Cerny that depict him wearing a Mohawk and screaming, “Karel is Not Dead,” Bloomberg News reported.

Schwarzenberg’s family fled to Austria after a communist coup in 1948, and he only returned to the Czech Republic in 1989, the Financial Times reported. That’s led to accusations that he’s not “Czech enough” to be president.

In a radio interview, President Klaus, a Zeman supporter, said, “What’s important to me is that the next president is someone who belongs to this country, who is part of it and has spent his life here, has lived through its bad and good times.”

According to DPA:

Zeman himself was forced to apologize for rumors reportedly spread by his campaign team that the Schwarzenberg palace in Austria had swastikas on the wall.

Schwarzenberg needs every vote he can get if he’s to beat front-runner Zeman. Unfortunately, Schwarzenberg invalidated his own vote today by casting his ballot without placing it first inside an envelope first, Bloomberg News reported.

The results of the election are expected to be announced on Saturday evening, the Financial Times reported.

More from GlobalPost: Vladimir Franz, tattooed professor, is 3rd in Czech presidential race
 

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/europe/czech-republic/130125/czechs-voting-presidential-election-weekend