Czechs elect president; anti-migrant incumbent favorite

FILE- In this file picture taken on Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2018, Czech Republic's President Milos Zeman, makes a speech during a Parliament session in Pr

FILE - In this file picture taken on Thursday, Jan. 4, 2018, Czech Republic's presidential candidate Jiri Drahos attends a political debate in the vil

FILE - In this file picture taken on Monday, Jan. 8, 2018, Czech Republic's presidential candidate Michal Horacek smiles before addressing media durin

PRAGUE (AP) — The Czechs are electing a new president with eight candidates hoping to unseat the current controversy-courting leader.

The 73-year-old Milos Zeman who is seeking re-election is a favorite to win the election's first round vote on Friday and Saturday.

The former president of the Academy of Sciences, Jiri Drahos, and popular song writer Michal Horacek are considered major challengers.

If no candidate achieves a majority, the top two will face each other in a runoff.

Zeman was elected to the largely ceremonial post in 2013 during the country's first direct presidential vote, a victory that returned the former left-leaning prime minister to power.

In office, he's become known for strong anti-migrant rhetoric. He has also divided the nation with his pro-Russian stance and support for closer ties with China.