During his five-year tenure to date, President Milos Zeman has become known for his plain-speaking nature and tough opposition to Muslim integration. The 73-year-old is also seen as receptive to authoritarian regimes, while becoming one of Russia’s most dependable allies in Europe.
While he was once considered to be in favor of the European Union (EU) — even flying the European flag at Prague Castle a month after his election — Zeman has since become one of the EU’s most vocal critics. The Czech president’s views on the conflict in Ukraine as well as the continent’s migrant crisis are in stark contrast to the European mainstream.
Zeman’s first term in office has been divisive on several fronts, from his opposition to EU-mandated immigration quotas to building security barriers around Prague Castle. In a 2015 Christmas message, Zeman described the ongoing influx of migrants in Europe as an “organized invasion.”
The Czech Republic is a member of a regional alliance of Central European nations called the Visegrad Group, alongside Hungary, Poland and Slovakia. In recent years, the increasingly right-wing alliance has moved away from progressive European integration and toward the policy of protecting native-born citizens.
Re-election for Zeman would give one of Europe’s most ardent Euroskeptic leaders a platform for another five years.