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Czech president in intensive care after holding talks on dramatic elections

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Zeman is being treated at the Central Military Hospital in the capital Prague, his doctor Miroslav Zavoral said in a brief statement to the press on Sunday.

“The reason for [Zeman’s] hospitalization is complication of the diseases for which he has received treatments, ”he said, adding that he could not yet speak of the diagnosis.

The video of the outside of Lány Presidential Castle, west of Prague, showed an ambulance leaving the premises with a police escort and limousines.

Zeman, 77, has suffered from several health problems in recent years. On the advice of his doctor, he voted in the country’s general election on Friday for the presidential withdrawal, instead of doing so at a school in Prague, as planned.

President Zeman’s admission to the hospital comes at a crucial time in deciding the new government of the Czech Republic.

Zeman was taken to hospital shortly after speaking with Prime Minister Andrej Babiš, a day after a general election where Babiš’s ruling party, ANO, appeared to have lost control of power, and the two coalitions ‘opposition they got the majority said they planned to form next government together.

Zeman has not said when or who would be asked to form the next government. But he has previously indicated that he would ask the leader of the largest party, not any coalition.

Complicating matters further, Babiš’s ruling ANO party won most of the seats between individual parties, but has no clear path to a majority in the lower house.

Czech President Milos Zeman speaks at a press conference at Prague Castle in May 2021.

Dramatic day at the polls

According to the Czech Statistics Office, the two opposition coalitions trying to oust him, Andrej Babiš’s ANO party was sharpened by the narrowest margin.

The center-right alliance Spolu (Together) got the most votes with 27.79% of the ballot box, followed by Babiš’s ANO party with 27.12% and the PirStan pirate coalition with 15.62 %.

“We are the change. You are the change,” Spolu coalition leader Petr Fiala said on Saturday, claiming victory in front of a cheering crowd.

PirStan coalition leader Ivan Bartoš said talks with Spolu “about the possibilities of forming a new government” would likely begin on Saturday.

“Andrej Babiš’s rule is over and the democratic parties have shown that the era of chaos is likely to be left behind,” Bartoš said.

After winning 108 seats in the 200-seat lower house on Saturday, talks between the two coalitions that campaigned against Babiš ended with the leaders of the five parties in the combined coalitions signing a memorandum to work together to form the next government.

A new government would distance the Czech Republic from the populist parties in Hungary and Poland, which have been increasingly affected by the withdrawal of democratic values ​​from the European Union.

The tight election also comes just days after Pandora Papers’ investigation into controversial financial relations by Babiš and other world leaders. The report claimed that the Czech prime minister secretly moved $ 22 million through offshore companies to buy a property on the Côte d’Azur in 2009, before entering politics.

Responding to Twitter, Babiš said he “had never done anything illegal.”

According to Bloomberg, a businessman worth about $ 3.4 billion, Babiš has criticized the elite since he became prime minister in 2017, promising to crack down on tax evasion.

But his tenure as prime minister has been haunted by long-running allegations of financial inadequacy.

CNN’s John Mastrini reported from Prague, Sheena McKenzie wrote in London. Sarah Dean contributed to this report.

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