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The Latest: Czech president has big lead in early results

PRAGUE (AP) – The Latest on the Czech Republic’s presidential election (all times local):

2:45 p.m.

Voting has ended in the first round of the Czech Republic’s presidential election, and early results show the anti-migrant incumbent with a huge lead.

This video frame shows Czech President Milos Zeman, in front, being taken away by security officers as their colleagues, right in the background, interfere with a naked woman shouting at Zeman trying to cast his vote during the presidential election’s first round vote in Prague, on Friday, Jan. 12, 2018. Czech Republic’s president Milos Zeman and former president of the Czech Academy of Sciences Jiri Drahos are considered as favorites to advance to the runoffs on Januray 26th and 27th. (Hynek Beran/CTK via AP)

The Czech Statistics Office says President Milos Zeman had 43.8 percent of the vote with ballots from over 15 percent of polling stations counted on Saturday. Zeman, a former prime minister, was elected in 2013 during the country’s first direct presidential vote.

If the 73-year-old gets a majority in the first round, he will be elected outright. If not, the top two finishers in the nine-candidate contest will face each other in a runoff in two weeks.

His strongest challenger, former Czech Academy of Sciences head Jiri Drahos, was running a distant second on Saturday with 24.2 percent of the counted ballots. Former diplomat Pavel Fischer was third with 8.8 percent.

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11:05 a.m.

The Czechs are casting ballots for a second day in their presidential election.

President Milos Zeman, 73, is seeking re-election and is considered the favorite to win the first-round vote taking place Friday and Saturday.

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

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

Zeman was elected 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 divided the nation with his pro-Russian stance and his support for closer ties with China.

Presidential candidate and Czech President Milos Zeman shows his vote as his wife Ivana, right, looks on during the presidential election's first round vote in Prague, on Friday, Jan. 12, 2018. Czech Republic's president Milos Zeman and former president of the Czech Academy of Sciences Jiri Drahos are considered as favorites to advance to the runoffs on Jan. 26th and 27th.  (Vit Simanek/CTK via AP)

Presidential candidate and Czech President Milos Zeman shows his vote as his wife Ivana, right, looks on during the presidential election’s first round vote in Prague, on Friday, Jan. 12, 2018. Czech Republic’s president Milos Zeman and former president of the Czech Academy of Sciences Jiri Drahos are considered as favorites to advance to the runoffs on Jan. 26th and 27th. (Vit Simanek/CTK via AP)

Presidential candidate Michal Horacek casts his vote as his we wife Michaela and daughter Julie look on during the presidential election's first round vote in Roudnice nad Labem (50 kilometres/31 miles North of Prague), on Friday, Jan. 12, 2018.  (Ondrej Hajek/CTK via AP)

Presidential candidate Michal Horacek casts his vote as his we wife Michaela and daughter Julie look on during the presidential election’s first round vote in Roudnice nad Labem (50 kilometres/31 miles North of Prague), on Friday, Jan. 12, 2018. (Ondrej Hajek/CTK via AP)

Presidential candidate Jiri Drahos prepares to cast a vote during first round of Presidential elections in Prague, Czech Republic, Friday, Jan. 12, 2018. 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 a second five-year term is a favorite to win the election's first round vote on Friday and Saturday. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)

Presidential candidate Jiri Drahos prepares to cast a vote during first round of Presidential elections in Prague, Czech Republic, Friday, Jan. 12, 2018. 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 a second five-year term is a favorite to win the election’s first round vote on Friday and Saturday. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)

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