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Drahoš wins among students

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Prague, Jan 17 (CTK) – Academic Jiri Drahos clearly defeated his rival Milos Zeman, the incumbent Czech president, in the simulated election held among secondary school students two weeks before the presidential runoff, the organising People in Need NGO announced on Wednesday.

Drahos won 75.9 percent of the vote, Zeman 24.1 percent.

Valid votes of 38,557 students from 298 schools all over the country were cast within the simulated polls.

Drahos won in all Czech regions. Support for Zeman was the strongest in Moravia-Silesia and western Bohemia (Plzen, Usti a Karlovy Vary regions) and the lowest in Prague, which is the richest region.

A vast majority of grammar school students prefer Zeman to Drahos, same as two thirds of students of secondary vocational schools, while Zeman would win a slight majority among apprentices.

“The results of the student elections should be neither overestimated nor ignored. They are a specific statement about the youngest generation,” said Karel Strachota, from People in Need.

Strachota said the election results can be seen as a message to the older generations, the generations of the parents and grandparents.

Drahos, Czech Academy of Sciences former head, also won the simulated first round of the presidential election organised in December. He received 33.6 percent of the student vote, followed by Zeman (20.0 percent), physician and activist Marek Hilser (13.2 percent), diplomat Pavel Fischer (9.6 percent) and lyricist and businessman Michal Horacek (9.26 percent).

In the real elections, Zeman clearly won the first round held last weekend with 38.6 percent of the vote, followed by Drahos (26.6 percent), Fischer (10.2 percent), Horacek (9.2 percent) and Hilser (8.8 percent). Zeman won in all the Czech regions except for Prague.

Before the first round of the 2013 presidential election, students also selected their favourite among then presidential candidates. The real winner, Zeman, ended fourth, while they expressed strongest support for artist and teacher Vladimir Franz, who ended in the fourth position and did not advance to the runoff.

The purpose of the elections was to stimulate active and responsible citizenship of the future first-time voters. The simulated elections among students have been held eight times so far.

There are more than 1,300 secondary schools in the Czech Republic. Students aged over 15 could take part in the simulated elections, while people aged over 18 have the right to cast their votes in the real elections.

The Czech presidential runoff will be held on January 26-27. A tough battle between Drahos and Zeman is expected by political analysts.

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