Milos Zeman will need to head for another round of polls if he is to remain in office.

With nearly all results in, Mr Zeman had 39% ahead of his nearest rival Jiri Drahos on 26.3%. Turnout was 61%.

Mr Zeman, 73, is seeking a second five-year term but has stoked controversy with his outspoken views and pro-Russian stance.

The second round is scheduled for 26-27 January.

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Observers say Zeman appears to have done worse than expected in rural areas, where his forthright views on immigrants and political correctness have traditionally struck a chord. 

To avoid a run-off, he needed to secure more than half the vote.

Many voters who chose one of the other seven candidates are likely to switch their allegiance to Mr Drahos in the second round.

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